Thea in the country, Thea in the city and Thea in the kitchen washing dishes.

Thea at the piano, Thea stretched out on the sofa massaging her bare foot, and again and again Thea with a cigarette in her bent hand.

With sixty pictures, created over the course of two decades, the volume "Thea" shows an attractive, always self-assured woman in ever new poses and situations.

They are images from a private archive, but stored there in such a large format as if they had been printed for an exhibition.

The exhibition never existed.

Thea died eight years ago, the photographer thirteen years ago.

Both after a serious illness, both much too young.

Freddie Langer

Editor in the features section, responsible for the “Reiseblatt”.

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Sometimes photographs tell of reverence and admiration, and sometimes one hopes that they will provide answers to questions that have not yet been asked.

Both explain why people in love particularly like to take pictures of themselves.

It must have been no different for Roger Melis when he met Dorothea Bertram in 1967.

He was twenty-seven years old, she twenty-nine.

They moved in together the following year, and two years later they were married.

It is quite possible that they were already perceived as a kind of dream team in the East German fashion industry.

Dorothea Bertram had taken a critical look at the GDR fashion magazine "Sibylle" in her diploma thesis at the University of Fine and Applied Arts in Berlin-Weißensee, was then hired by its editor-in-chief at the beginning of the 1960s to modernize the magazine, and rose later to his fashion boss, which is said to have led to the nickname "Anna Wintour".

With reverence for the individual

In the mid-1960s, Roger Melis began his series of portraits of writers and visual artists in the GDR, a work that eventually assumed encyclopaedic proportions.

Even before he took the first picture of Dorethea Bertram, he was able to present a comprehensive portfolio with photographs not only of Peter Huchel, Günter Kunert and Rolf Schneider, Peter Hacks, Heiner Müller and Wolf Biermann as well as the sculptors Werner Stötzer and Fritz Cremer, whose sheets make a not inconsiderable contribution to our conception of these men today.

It was serious moments that he captured, closed faces with thoughtful, skeptical looks, often of almost state-bearing gravity - and the poses sometimes as if they were carved in stone.

Behind it was a view of the portrait that Roger Melis still held fast to after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Hardly anyone smiles in his pictures.

Nobody laughs.

Roger Melis wrote on occasion that it was always important to him to approach people cautiously.

He consciously used an "antiquated" term, as he put it: "With reverence for the individual."

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