It is hard for me to get excited about New York City photographs. After seeing and assigning them for more years than I am willing to admit, few surprise me. So what is it about Tobias Hutzler’s pictures that caught my eye?
Like many photographers in Germany, he was influenced by American visual culture, the romance of freedom, space, cowboys, and cars. Once here Tobias tried to forget these ideas and find his own vision of the country. When he arrived in New York, after finishing his MFA on a Fulbright scholarship, he saw a city in constant transformation. For him each neighborhood was a microcosm to explore. He mastered the technical intricacies of the 50mm ultra wide-angle lens, which distorts, and decided to use it exclusively for his New York pictures. He says that it is the lens that tells his stories. It sees a world different from his eye, and it drives his pictures. He searches for the perfect space. He is often slightly elevated from the lens; other times he is extremely close. Then he hones in on a scene, closes his eyes, and snaps the shutter. To avoid clichés, he searches for what he does not understand in order to undermine perfection; he looks for a dialogue between harmony and disharmony, pure esthetics and imperfect reality in opposing dualities.
His pictures are both consistent and filled with surprises. They can be divided into two groups: graphic abstracted images and close-up pictures at the center of action. Both reveal a clear vision by juxtaposing space, movement, and light. It is his desire to create order by reducing each picture to its graphic essence, and at the same time he wishes to intuitively let a picture happen. On one hand his pictures are clear and logical, on the other intuitive and emotional, a duality that may relate to the stereotypically Germanic struggle between the logical mind and the romantic soul.