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Hans Kotter Profile Work Biography  


Light and Colour

Hans Kotter






Red, Yellow, Green – what a delusion!

Everything we perceive as bright and colourful would be nothing more than entropic and static without the human eye and brain - a diffused haze of electromagnetic waves and interweaving turbulences.

The perception of colours, their diversity and the attraction that they hold for the beholder form the heart of my work “LIGHT AND COLOUR” to the phenomenon of colour. Light the most important companion and corresponding phenomenon of colour, plays a central role - not only in the conception and production of my photographs, but also in their presentation.


Various scientific disciplines deal with colours and their properties: for thermodynamics the energetic contents is measured while psychology looks into their effect on emotions and the vegetative nervous system. Physics analyses wave lengths, wave functions and spectral power distribution. Art history follows the changes in the artistic use of colours, their production methods and techniques used.

One underlying principle of all these ways of dealing with colours is the fact that they never just exist in themselves. They always require a carrier substance, a medium, or – in my own artistic sense - a 'visual sound box', in which to develop their optically perceivable shape and effect.

Photography – “LIGHT AND COLOUR”

Photography is by nature a technique that operates through light - with colours and their physical properties. The images that form part of the work 'LIGHT AND COLOUR' are photos. They have not been altered, manipulated, distorted or processed in any way. The colours and their delicate interplay exist – hidden from the gaze of the passing viewer - in the detail of ordinary everyday objects. 

I have been collecting vases and objects made of Italian Murano glass for many years – most of them are from the 1950s to 70s. Held up against the sunlight or any other source of light the objects produce a vivid spectacle of colours that goes far beyond their original two or at the most three colours.


The laws of physics become visible and understandable to the bare eye in the most startling and aesthetic manner. On the border between two media a ray of light, being the carrier of colours, is not merely reflected but passes part of its energy on to the new medium in a different direction: it is refracted. White light, being the sum of all spectral colours, contains the whole range of distinguishable colours at all times and everywhere - but in a way unperceivable to the human eye. It separates into the different colour ranges once it hits the edge between two media. Different wavelengths are refracted differently and deflected in different directions.

I do not focus on the refraction of the spectral colours in isolation or on their scientifically correct representation in my artistic work. I am rather more concerned to capture and analyse the diversity of colours and the multiple ways in which waves can pass through material. They bear testimony to that which is normally obscured when they are made visible and, quite literally, are brought into the light.

The beam of light directed at the object has to be intercepted with a diffuser rather than using direct light, I use Perspex to achieve a first refraction of the white light.  As a result the light reaches the object from different directions before being refracted for a second time.  The 'eye' of the camera – representing human perception - meets the iridescent play of colours due to a strong zoom into the interior of the vases,. 

An intoxicating and enthralling fireworks of colour is made visible once the pictures are enlarged. This can usually only be seen in the area of macro-photography.  It explodes into a delirious dance of colours in the enlargement because it has been developed in minute detail. The beauty of the colours is made accessible to the human eye. An awesome and fascinating sight for our senses!

It is my ambition to expose the fascination of colours, their expressive power and their ability to capture the gaze of the viewer for the viewer. I investigate using the senses rather than pure science – opening up the beholder to the phenomenon of colour that encompasses both sensual pleasure and a joy of discovery.


I have focused on colour as a phenomenon and as  a artistic raw material in my work for over ten years now. A number of photos that have been created as part of this process have been framed and exhibited in various shows.  They have, furthermore, been used in different installations that have been fitted in and on buildings as part of various 'Kunst am Bau' (public art in and on buildings) projects.

The photos of the series 'LIGHT AND COLOUR' were fitted with integrated lights and put up in public spaces as well as inside buildings. The photos thus serve an additional function or rather, they unfold another component of their effect:  they can have a profound effect on the impression of the room and its perceived ambience if used as vibrantly coloured, light projecting or reflecting objects in buildings,. They directly influence the ambience of a space: The gazes of visitors and passers-by lose themselves in the myriad of complex and sometimes almost picture-like colours. The objects become illuminated axes, guiding the gaze and therefore the behaviour of people. The magic of colour does not only influence the subjective human perception, but can even change the way people move in a space, the routes they take and how long they linger.

My work impacts people - whether they deliberately view it in the context of an exhibition or they stumble across it in a public space. People are fascinated with the colours. The viewer is brought back in touch with the diversity of their own perception when they view my works.

I playfully explore iridescent glass surfaces and the omnipresent secret of their creation. A multitude of aspects feed into my work: total enjoyment of sensual experiences, the joy of new insights – taking part in adventures that encompass senses, emotions, intellect and perception.

My work helps to break barriers and to explore new visual barriers.

You, the viewer, forget time and space when you watch “LIGHT AND COLOUR” – perceived boundaries blur. The work doesn’t lose its impact – it’s just like the light absorbed and reflected on Murano glass. It changes direction!




Hans Kotter