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Gabriele Viertel

"Staging in the natural element of water allows me to break away from gravity and to experience the human form as well as the material body in a slowed and stilled environment. I am an image-maker, who strives for aesthetics with form, colors and dimensions - aesthetics as a pretty and seductive  hiding packaging for human depths and abysses such as fears, desires and longings. With the anonymity of the depicted and an almost voyeuristic eye on the event, I want to create nearness and intimacy , leading  the beholder into that surreal moment, into an illusion where dreams and reality mix." 

                                                                                                                              Gabriele Viertel

Gabriele Viertel's  work focuses on the human figure mostly merged with the natural element of water.
Consciously she leaves the  path of traditional photography with her artistic vision by  creating contemporary images which seem to balance a tightrope between painting and photography, leading  into a dream- like, surreal   atmosphere of longings, fears and infinite evanescence,


Over the last  years she was honoured many times for her photographic work.

She is the recipient of many awards including the silver medal of  Prix de la Photographie Paris, the gold medal of the Color Award and the platinum medal of the  Graphis NY Award.

Gabriele Viertel has been invited to international exhibitions such as the  'Nation, Best of Contemporary Photography' of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Indiana USA in 2015,   3rd Biennial of Documentary and Fine Art Photography Heritage Municipal Museum Malaga Spain in 2014, Berlin Foto Biennal Germany in 2016,   NordArt Schleswig-Holstein Germany in 2016  and the two-artist exhibition in 2017  ' Visions de Corps' of the Centre Charles Peguy , Musee D'Orleans France.

Works are held in collections of public institutes including the Musée des Beaux-arts Orleans, FR, the University of Art Codarts Rotterdam,NL, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Indiana, USA,  the Dr. Belbe Collection Stade as well as in private collections.

Originally from Germany Gabriele studied mechanical engineering and design in Cologne. During this time she worked as a model to fund the studie. After graduation as a technician she decided to pursue the career in front of the camera and on the catwalk. It was followed about a decade working in the international fashion industry for designers such as Dior, Wolfgang Joop and Karl Lagerfeld.


In 2011, she devoted herself to photography as freelance artist and presented her work to the public for the first time in 2013.  This did not go unnoticed and was followed by numerous publications worldwide, among others  repeatedly featured in the art blog  of the  San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Gabriele Viertel lives and works in the Netherlands.

"Gabriele combines a beautiful and intelligent inner world with an interesting and highly technical procedure. She joins the painted idea with the photographic eye, employing an unique technique never seen before. She has an exceptional way of arranging light, colors, costumes and models. It displays her natural examination of humanity and femininity, her respect for life and a deep spiritual understanding.

Gabriele Viertel is an extraordinary and experienced and independent artist. She is a profound and creative storyteller of her surrealistic inner images, working with beauty in all its artistic possibilities."

                           2016  Hans Peter Adamski, visual artist, professor and dean at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts

Gabriele Viertel's photographs are floating in the most striking contrast which is existing  in art: the chiaroscuro contrast!

The high contrasty underwater images of fine art photographer Gabriele Viertel have pulled me  in its spell from the beginning. 

As an art historian I feel empathised in the worlds of the Pre-Raphaelite.

Thus the Pre-Raphaelites had claimed to revolutionize the painting in the mid-19th century, to renew the representation of what is seen.

They wanted an art history, not tainted by artificiality and academic narrowing, saw those artists before Raphael, who had not gone through the structural and ideological mills of the Renaissance.

With the invention of photography  the visual perception was radicalized. People's' knowledge of what is perceived , changed radically.

It was the evolutionary research of Darwin and the new knowledge in botany, geology and meteorology,

which relined theoretically  the artists   and influenced their  painting.

To the countryside and, 'rejecting nothing, selecting nothing '!  So, the first open-air painters used, alongside traditional painting materials, also binoculars and microscope, rock atlas and a botanical classification book. With meticulous in detail, also  Millais deepend into the natural riparian vegetation on Hogsmill River in Ewell, Surrey,  in his famous picture Ophelia. All elements appearing in the picture  seem drawn equally sharply. Everything precisely drawn, whether human, robe or plants.

Here background elements are subordinate to the human drama. Here not the environment illustrates the figure, but the literary context is listed in a realistic nature.

At the time of the Pre-Raphaelites this way of painting was considered spans and eccentric.


Ophelia floating in the water and seems to be sinking - a state that seems to fascinate photographer Gabriele Viertel.

In the series  'Storm'  the models hover in dark water and appear in a slight sinking. A water that reached an incredible depth by the light/dark contrast.

Every detail - seeming even of a minor - is rendered equally sharp. Be it only the millimeter narrow hem of a ice blue transparent  white gleaming  chiffon gown.

"I use the natural element of water to take advantage of weightlessness. The visibility of the water is here secondary." says the artist. "The apnea and instability result in  a more intimate focus of the model , different than Studio Photography." Viertels' images are characterized by weightlessness of the models and their robes. In transparency, the robes seem to attain to advantage primarily through the water. Filmy nuances become  so infinitely far only by depth of focus. Dresses which sprung more of a goddess, as the modern life of the 21st century.

 Width, contrast,  the weightlessness - all that gives an ethereal moment, a moment of uniqueness, not repeatable. One might almost say, a dreamlike quality. Often we are not able to grasp what was seen in a dream .  This is what happens with the staged  dreams  of Gabriele Viertels' images. We are witnesses of an event of history, but not  of fashion photography.

What does  the model catch sight of during she is breaking through the surface of water, of what she floats away from, what is in her mind, when reduced the head and downwardly directed eyes -maybe closed eyes -towards her picturesque garb.  The photos tell us a story that desires  to be decrypted  like a dream. It is the contemplation of the beauty of the woman,  of fashion, and their environment of water.

She has always had portrayed women , since her earliest youth. A circumstance which can be felt in each of her masterly portraits .

This  are no paintings, but photos -  with the grace of a painting of  a Sir John Everett Millais -  captivating  me

              and of which I would like to see more.

Selected Features



Dr. Jutta Tremmel-Endres, art historian  2016
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