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Thomas Flechtner

Thomas Flechtner was born in Winterthur in 1961, and studied photography at the Applied Arts School in Vevey. Since 1987, he has been active as a freelance photographer and has shown his work in many solo and major group exhibitions. In 1986 and 1987, he worked as an assistant in Basel and Hamburg. He received the Swiss Art Award in 1988, 1990 and 1992. In 1989, his artistic work was honoured with the Kodak Award Europe and in 1993 he received a grant for a studio practice in London from the Landis & Gyr Foundation in Zug. Flechtner currently lives and works in Zurich and Valliere, France. 

Thomas Flechtner not only fully masters the technical possibilities of his medium but also understands dramatic intervention, the importance of a meticulous choice of detail and the time it takes to achieve the image that he has set out to produce. He focuses on both expansive textures and the little details that catch the viewer's eye, creating fascinating large-format images built on rhythms defined by colour and form. His work is imbued with a sense of timelessness. His photographs are produced using a large-format view camera, a technique that requires a slow, precise and methodical approach. Flechtner first encountered international success with his snow pictures from the series Walks from 1999 to 2001, in which he brings together the act of photography with his own creative impact on the landscape. Wearing skis, the artist walks on the snow, leaving traces as if writing on a photographic plate. He becomes light, the agent that reveals an image. With their long exposures and methodical interventions, these images inspire calm and are neither theatrical nor narrative. Time seems to have slowed down or come to a complete standstill. Viewers must simply allow themselves to be absorbed by the environment, just as the photographer did. In another snow series, Colder, from 1996 to 2000, he uses the light-reflective quality and distinctive intensity of colour of the snowy cityscape to produce memorable images of disconcerting beauty. Since 2003, Flechtner has been pursuing a new passion: the unbridled colour, movement and peculiarity of organic nature. The famous American photographer Ansel Adams once said: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Thomas Flechtner could be said to adhere to this approach, not only because nature photography is his main theme but also because he always recomposes the image before capturing it.

To learn more about Thomas Flechtner, watch swissphotographers' interview!