In an age of fast-changing technologies, offering numerous ways of generating images, Elias Wessel challenges the conventional definition of a painting: he creates his “paintings” without resorting to traditional painting techniques and eschews classical genres. The artist’s abstract paintings – which in many ways show connections to painterly practices – are in fact made up of photographs and digital material.
Wessel, for example, takes photos of smartphone displays to produce monumental abstract compositions from the fingerprints left behind on them. He also documents his scrolling behavior on social media platforms by using long-time exposure to superimpose accessed profiles and their contents: the result are visual and decontextualized structures. His other works present painterly-looking details of damaged displays: where else in the digital world can we experience such a close relationship with the canvas?
Above all, the quality of Elias Wessel’s working method lies in the way he links the fundamental discourses in the history of photography with the latest technology and current social debates. In so doing, he skillfully observes and questions the social consequences and instruments of digitalization.