Mat Hennek - The Soul of Music

Fri 15 Aug 2014Sat 20 Sep 2014
Opening Times: 
Wed – Fri 12:00 am - 7:00 pm; Sat 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and on appointment

Bernheimer Fine Art Photography is pleased to showcase works by photographer Mat Hennek in the exhibition “The Soul of Music” taking place at the same time as the world-famous classical Festival in Lucerne. We are delighted to present the exhibition in Switzerland for the first time.

Furthermore, between August 18th and 20th an extensive selection of Mat Hennek’s portrait photography will be part of a unique presentation at the KKL. In cooperation with the trustees of the Lucerne Festival the works are featured at the summer pavilion of the KKL terrace.

The exhibition shows portraits of musicians by the German photographer Mat Hennek, who like no other shaped in the past years the visual aesthetics of classical music. Mat Hennek photographs classical musicians: pianists, conductors, singers, violinists, cellists and others. People who in their platform lives pay tribute to the most evanescent of all performing arts. People, most of whom – contrary to current clichés – are overcome by a “fascinating lack of interest” as soon as pictures are referred to, not to mention pictures of them. As if this were more than just another tiresome profession evil – almost sacrilege, in fact. Photography captures and record, music evokes transitoriness.

So what do Hennek’s portraits show, what are they looking for? “The real thing”. Uncomouflaged. The encounter. The creative process, play. Looking and being looked at. The strategies involved in prising open the person opposite are, in the nature of things, as different as the people themselves. Christian Thielemann for example had to be more or less ambushed, says Hennek, while Mikhail Pletnev was hardly willing to look up. Anna Netrebko? “The thing there was to bring out the shyness behind the poses.”

With photos likes these, Hennek established a whole new classical style on disc labels such as Deutsche Grammophon or Sony – a fresh, by no means uncontroversial look. Musicians as contemporaries, as relaxed occupants of the surface as well. Being a layman, says Hennek, has been a help – his complete impartiality vis-à-vis famous names and figures. And perhaps that really is the case: Only someone unafraid of Claudio Abbado’s fame because he does not know about it can ultimately penetrate so deep into his inner life.

Met Hennek never sets up in his meeting with artists either, at the best he gets them to happen. And then it’s press the botton sparingly, be quick, be discreet. Pick up the scent, sometimes talk, sometimes keep shtum. Feel in advance, in your fingers, deep down, with all your senses, what the picture’s going to be.

His portrait series include opera stars such as Anna Netrebko, Magdalena Kozená, Thomas Quasthoff, solo musicians as Hélène Grimaud, Lang Lang, Hilary Hahn, Mischa Maisky, Krystian Zimerman and conductors as Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Christian Thielemann.

Mat Hennek has a feeling for the hidden, authentic sides of the musicians’ personalities, so that the intimate dialogue between the photographer and his model is always apparent. He achieves to capture the stars in unfamiliar poses and surroundings – preferably in the nature. Hennek has already been in the wood with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Sir Simon Rattle, Ben Heppner, Vadim Repin, Kent Nagano and with his partner Hélène Grimaud as well, of course.