Ivo Kuhn

Alpine architecture

“Pictures of mountains present two kinds of extremes at once,” says Ivo Kuhn, adding, “On the one hand, they are culturally extremely biased, while on the other they can also have a powerful presence as an image of a specific place.” The artist, who was born in Bregenz, Austria, in 1970 and now lives in Zurich, has devoted his largest group of work to date to examining mountain landscapes and explains his approach by comparing it with painting: “Each picture expresses a notion we are made aware of. That is also true for photography. The only difference is that a photograph cannot be freely composed in the same way as a painting can. I can’t make up my own landscape in front of the camera and define the outlines, seemingly with a ruler.”

Ivo Kuhn’s images are planned. The trained architect describes in one sentence how the outcome of his pictures depends on finding the right viewpoint: “If I had moved the camera by just one meter, the entire image would have decomposed into irregularities.” In his search for motifs, Kuhn determines the composition of the picture including the location, angle and line of vision before actually taking it. Once on site in the mountains, he has to quickly decide where to place his camera. He cannot always precisely gauge the foreground during his preliminary online research, as smaller faults in the topography and rocks are not always reliably recognizable. Once there, Kuhn continues developing the image in his mind.

Despite meticulous preparation, he is still reliant on the weather. He only goes ahead with his plans if the weather is as forecast and the mood created by the light is exactly as expected. That is rarely the case – and if it is, then only for a limited time, so that his photographs cannot be reproduced. Once Kuhn has “collected”, as he calls it, a large number of images in good conditions, he continues to the next, equally important, stage of his work: elaboration. During this phase, he selects certain images based on sketches, which he superimposes to create a multiple exposure; finally, he determines what share the single exposures should be given in the final image.

What the artist then achieves is surely unique: Even viewers without any interest in nature or mountain landscapes are captivated by his compositions to an exceptional degree. New details emerge in unparalleled sharp focus, each image has a multiple effect, but always new. Stones, hard, sharp, scraggy – in his case simply aesthetic and inspiring.

Biographical information

1970

born in Bregenz, Austria and raised in Bremen, Germany

1992–2001

studies Mechanical Engineering, Architecture and Art History in Spain and Germany

2001

Architectural Diploma on urban projects in Bilbao, Spain

2001

moves to Zürich, Switzerland where he works as an architect and designer

2009

begins working as an independent photo-artist

lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland.