German artist Gerhard Mantz did not necessarily strive to depict specific geographical locations. Rather, he called to mind a metaphor for a psychological state. At first glance, the images seem real, sometimes even photographic, with mesmerizing naturalistic details. These lush scenes are made like paintings in order to evoke feelings and moods – entering these visual surroundings produces instant emotional reactions. Upon closer inspection, the seemingly realistic elements of Mantz’s images are revealed to be exotic, virtual realms more closely associated with an interior “reality” than the exterior world.
Using digital techniques, Gerhard Mantz created lush interpretations of landscapes. To realize his vision, he guided the viewer’s gaze over glossy lakes, sprouting plants, and treetops stretching into the sky. In this artificial nature, we discover some new, and some familiar elements that are reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich’s famous words: “The painter’s task is not the realistic depiction of sky, water, rocks, and trees, but rather his soul; his feelings should be reflected in it.”
Mantz regularly travelled to Tenerife, where he drew inspiration from its Barrancos. These ravines were once created by flowing lava but are now rife with beautiful vegetation in the summertime. Mantz found a unique kind of beauty in wild growth of the rock fissures. “They twist and wind, become narrower and wider, and then at the end let you look out into the haze over the open sea,” the artist said. His works are not real places that exist, but the powerful distillation of an inner vision.
Gerhard Mantz was born in 1950 in Neu Ulm, Germany and spent many years living and working in Berlin. His work has been shown extensively in Germany and Europe since the early 1980s and today enjoys an international reputation. Mantz’s digital art was included in the group show "Minus Space" at New York’s PS1 Contemporary Art Center / MoMA (October 19, 2008 - January 26, 2009). Mantz passed away in March 2021.