7 January 2016 § Leave a comment
This post is also featured on the online cultural magazine CELLOPHANELAND* – www.cellophaneland.com
Photography has since its invention been primarily seen as a medium which reproduces reality, albeit more or less honestly. There are of course many photographers who are still documenting reality, and in the digital age these resulting images have an ever increasing shape-shifting flexibility transferring with ever-greater ease from the camera to the screen, internet, print, photo-book, advertising hoardings and even T shirts or mugs.
There is however an increasing movement of younger photographers who seek to deconstruct, alter and redefine the medium by foregrounding such formal aspects its physical form and the chemical or technical processes involved. Grouped loosely under the term ‘constructed photography’, the work of artists such as Matt Lipps, Walead Beshty, Daniel Gordon and Antonio Marguet makes the scaffolding of the photograph explicit whilst re-building photography as both a physical and technical art.
Noemie Goudal is one of the latest wave of these photographers having only graduated from the RCA as recently as 2012. Our attention was originally drawn to her work in an excellent High House Gallery group exhibition Re:Vision at 44AD in Bath and it is a significant comment on her talent that after such a short time The Photographers Gallery has given her a solo exhibition.
Southern Light Stations continues Goudal’s interest in man made interventions within the natural world. Her practice is to use props, large photographs or constructed photographic sets and rephotograph them within natural settings or other existing backdrops. For one set of images she looks at historic celestial and solar perceptions – the sky once being considered for example as a solid plane. Roughly built circular forms are hung within landscapes, their theatricality clear to see, and photographed.
Reflecting a fascination with our relationship to the sky, the exhibition draws upon a rich history of myths, legends, religious symbolism and early scientific theories. Through photographs, stereoscopes and architectural installations, the exhibition aims to explore the intangible nature of celestial space – long considered a mirror of terrestrial turmoil as well as an expression of the sacred.
For another series of architectural objects Goudal has digitally manipulated images of concrete buildings before affixing the collaged prints on to wooden constructions. These are then placed within barren landscapes or seascapes and again rephotographed.
Both series draw upon the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, highly influential German deadpan photographers – who documented German Industrial architecture with multiple images of similar objects such as water towers. Goudal’s work nevertheless adds to their work, is thought-provoking and fascinating.
For more information visit www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
18 November 2015 § Leave a comment
The preview day of Frieze always provides plenty of visual stimulation – both on and off the exhibiting gallery walls. As we shimmied past the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hooper, Tommy Hilfiger and Valentino we made our way around the fair to see what was on offer this year.
Glenn Brown was our undisputed favourite this year with a stand full of great pieces at Gagosian, including these examples of both oil and sculpture.
The young sensation Eddie Peake had two stunning works on show.
There were two superb Michael Fullerton portraits showing at the Carl Freedman Gallery.
The underrated Billy Childish had a large scale work, also at Carl Freedman.
A colourful large scale Allen Jones was a great example of his work.
Ai Weiwei has been dying his roots.
Self Portrait in bath by Tracey Emin underwhelmed us, but here are some others that drew our attention:
Frieze London runs until Saturday 17 October 2015. For more information visit www. friezelondon.com
For more information visit www. friezemasters.com
Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and courtesy of Frieze
9 November 2015 § Leave a comment
Organised to anticipate the release of the film, Legend, on the 9 September, this exhibition offers a fine photographic overview of the world of the Kray twins.
The film itself is the latest take on the story of the Krays, and features a brilliant performance by Tom Hardy who bravely takes on the roles of both twins.
The Kray’s living room set from the film has been transported to the exhibition space. It acts as a sixties style viewing area for a short, looped documentary that hears from some notable characters from that period.
Along the walls are images from a number of top photographers. The renowned war photographer, Don McCullin, who visited the area for over twenty years from the 1960’s onwards, provides some notable images in his confrontational style.
McCullin captured the “suffering, drama and misery” of what he termed the “social wars” of this part of the city.
Also included are pictures by the equally celebrated photographer, Brian Duffy, a contemporary of David Bailey.
One particular picture shows Reggie sparring with his grandfather, Jimmy “Cannonball” Lee, who introduced the twins to boxing when they were children. Many more of his pictures of the twins were sadly lost when he destroyed much of his archive.
Other photographers exhibited include David George who spent thirty years taking photographs of the East End, and Jocelyn Bain Hogg, a documentary photographer who is also the author of five books including The Firm: a portrayal of criminal life from which the exhibited images are drawn.
This excellent exhibition acts not only as a look at the Krays themselves but at the East End of London at the time and features the highest quality documentary photography.
Curator Zelda Cheatle says: “What I was conscious to do was not the clichéd thing to glamorise violence or make out the East End to be a terrible place full of violence. What I really hope is some of the joy and desire for life in the streets comes through.”
“The exhibition looks at the East End of the 60’s and 70’s, brought to life by the people who lived there, the photographers who captured everyday life, the undercurrents that continue to exist, and importantly it reflects the poetry of the streets. ”
The Legend Of The East End runs until 11 Sept 2015 at 135 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 7DG
For further info, visit: http://www.visitlondon.com/legend
Images courtesy Cass Archive, Duffy Images, Getty Images
6 November 2015 § Leave a comment
Online auctions are big business. We all know of course about Ebay which started as a local experiment and astonished even its founder as it evolved to cover almost anything that anyone could imagine. Many other online-only sale platforms as well as proprietary auction house live bidding sites have appeared on the web since but many have assumed that the online auction model would never work for big ticket items like blue chip fine art or collectable automobiles.
They were wrong. Despite being late to the party the major auction houses have now all realised that you can indeed sell anything of any value on the web and they too have jumped on the bandwagon. The whole panoply of art, culture and design from $1 to $100 million is now available online.
Naturally with choice comes complication. A search for a photograph by, say, Terry O’Neill could easily take hours via checks upcoming auctions at multiple houses and still be incomplete. It was this growing problem that actually led a Swede, Christian Barnekow, to develop a way to search easily across multiple auctions. barnebys was the result and is now the biggest of its type in the world. It now covers hundreds of thousands of lots from over 1000 auction houses – a number increasing daily – and makes a complex search achievable in seconds – it is an invaluable resource that we use here almost daily.
Another familiar problem for potential buyers is that once you’ve found a Terry O’Neill you need to know its value? Up to now expensive subscriptions to companies like Artnet and Mutualart were needed for, not always satisfactory, access to their databases. A free search at barnebys ‘realised prices’ instantly supplies over a hundred full Terry O’Neill auction records between 1998 to now and allows a quick and easy comparison of other similar works. How brilliant is that?
The auctions, and results, are subdivided in to around thirty different categories across the world of art, design and culture and include for example Fashion & Vintage, Jewellery & Gems, Photographs, Sculpture and Furniture & Design and its a great place to search for affordable designer furniture or perhaps a designer handbag. You can search by any key word, product or select individual auction houses and sales to browse through.
There are many other useful features accessed via the barnebys site including access to a blog with trends, news article and ideas. Last but not least is a free valuation service – simply send details of your item via an online form (here) – and details are forwarded to auction house experts for an appraisal.
We particularly like the website layout which is clear, nicely arranged and easy to use. All in all barnebys should be saved on any everyone’s ‘favourite’ websites. Now, maybe I’ll just put a sly bid on that Picasso ‘La Gommeuse’ at £38 million or perhaps the Warhol Marilyn Monroe instead – a snip at around £100k?
For more information visit www.barnebys.com
10 June 2014 § Leave a comment
I have been aware of the existence of the CASS Foundation for a number of years but had somehow not got around to visiting. The trip to the Foundation’s woodland location, deep in the heart of the Sussex countryside, always seemed like something that could wait until the next trip ‘down that way’.
In particular I have always been rather wary of anything to do with sculpture located in rural locations where it is rather too easy to end up at a depressing collection of derivative organic forms or animal carvings.
Nevertheless the opportunity for that particular foray in to the country arrived last week as I weaved through pretty villages and leafy country lanes and through the grand gates of CASS.
Immediately it was evident that this was was not going to be a disappointing visit. Standing guard outside the gates was a delightfully over the top work by Gary Webb in pink, silver and gold whilst next to the parking area were other works by Tony Cragg and Sean Henry.
A stroll around the winding paths of the estate revealed a series of contemporary sculpture of the highest quality. An army of Peter Burke figures in corten steel stood to attention in a clearing whilst a blancmange pink zebra entitled Doppenganger by Michael Joo gazed over the adjacent fields.
Bill Woodrow’s 2000 piece for the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square Regardless of History has found a home here as has Eduardo Paolozzi’s London-Paris – the last work that he completed before he died.
Other notable pieces include Cao Fei’s pink inflatable pig House of Treasures Phillip King’s Suns Roots II and Juliana Cerqueira Leite’s Climb (she also has a pavilion of her work on show).
The organisation is actually a charitable foundation in 1992 by Wilfred and Jeannette Cass dedicated to commissioning new work from emerging and established artists. The Foundation’s 26 acre grounds are home to an ever-changing display of 80 monumental sculptures, many of which are available for sale with the proceeds going directly to artists.
The main building has a changing exhibition – currently the excellent Gary Webb as well as a few books and a complimentary cup of tea of coffee to round off a delightful and worthwhile trip to the country.
The CASS Sculpture Foundation is open 7 days a week 10.30-4.30 through the summer
CASS, New Barn Hill, Goodwood, near Chichester PO18 0QP. Tel (0)1243 538 449
29 January 2014 § Leave a comment
Nuno Moreira is a talented Portuguese photographer who has recently published ‘State of Mind’ – a photobook reviewed recently in akickupthearts here. We asked him a few questions about his work, influences and Japan, where he is currently based.
Q. I note that you are currently in Tokyo promoting “State Of Mind” and have worked there in the past. Do you have a specific attachment to Japan?
I’m based in Tokyo and happily living here with my Japanese wife. I intend on staying for a little longer and develop more work both with photography and art direction. Since I came here I’ve been trying to gather a circle of fellow artist friends and possibly delve into partnerships that can be enriching for everyone.
Tokyo is a great city to live and work, I made the entire editing of “State of Mind” here during last year. Everything is very functional, stable and tidy. Sometimes it gets way too much but I still have a lot to discover and the traditional aspects of Japanese society and the ancient daily rituals are really the motif that brought me here in the first place.
Q. On the Japanese theme, your work has formal similarities with the great Daido Moriyama’s work – that is high contrast, black & white images, often from unusual viewpoints. Did he influence you in any way?
I should probably say thank you for the compliment, but Moriyama is really not an influence in my work. I appreciate his style, most of the times I find it over repetitive even though I acknowledge his importance in contemporary photography. The formal aspects are similar, we both shoot in black and white and many street scenes but in terms of mood it’s quite different. If I had to characterize my style – which seems like an awful thing to do – I would say it draws more influences from classic cinema, perhaps similar with the Nouvelle Vague movement where everything is more loose and unconventional but still leading somewhere.
Q. Are there other photographers – or artists – who have been particularly influential?
I like the work of Charles Harbutt quite a lot. And the funny thing is that I discovered Harbutt’s work the first time I came to Japan while browsing through an antique shop. I found his 1973 book, “Travelog” totally by accident and thought we had many things in common. Especially the way of overlooking the city and people in a cinematic way. Funny enough, I couldn’t really predict that one year later I would be moving to Japan, editing my own photo book, and that I would have a recommendation from Harbutt himself on the book.
Q. Travelling seems to be an important, or even vital, part of your life. How does this manifest itself in your work?
That’s correct, I’ve come to realize that traveling plays a vital role in my life. I need the sense of dislocation to actually feel more in control of my body and regain consciousness on where I am going and what I intend to do next. I think being stuck in one place doing the same thing is something that really doesn’t work for me and most artists I know. Being in a place for the first time, even if for a short period, opens this gigantic window of possibilities where perception works in a different way. I like these shifts in reality and the challenges that follow change. I also feel there’s many insights and more mental activity deriving from the different inputs in new places therefore I take a lot more pictures and my mind is usually much clearer and faster when traveling. Life is all about movement, don’t you think?
Q. This is a book that was many years in the making. At what point did you realise that there was a photo book that would emerge from these images? Did you have a conscious plan for it from the beginning?
I didn’t have a plan to make this book until I actually started to gather all the photos and seeing them in perspective. In that sense I could say “State of Mind” works as a kind of monograph of what I’ve been shooting and seeing for the last 5 years.
Q. Another Japanese photographic artist who has been prominent recently is Rinko Kawauchi. She is famed as a master of editing, bringing together a series of widely varied images, to create something new and meaningful – a particularly skill relevant to the art form that is the photo book. How important is editing to you? / How did you approach the editing of your own work?
I’m familiar with Rinko Kawauchi’s work and her editing and image sequencing is indeed interesting and sometimes surprising. Unfortunately there’s many other astonishing Japanese photographers who are not so well known and deserve credit, being my personal favorite probably Issei Suda.
The editing of “State of Mind” was perhaps the most difficult part and what took me the most time to accomplish. The process of editing basically consisted of putting images side by side and choosing the best rhythm and flow between them. This was something I had to do physically, with printed images. It’s utterly impossible to work only in digital terms, at least for me. I wanted the book to follow a specific narrative even though there’s different images and some jumps here and there. Sometimes images in a spread form a dialogue, sometimes they need to be isolated and stand alone against a white facing page. To find the right flow or visual path for a photo book is not an easy thing, so I think it really makes sense if the photographer can work with a proper designer and someone who is not so emotionally close with the images. If I would do the book today it would probably look different but I suppose that’s part of the learning curve.
Q. “State of Mind” features many single people isolated in urban environments – looking, thinking, passing by. There is often an evident sadness and loneliness, but also hope. What are the feelings that you want the reader to see in this collection of work?
I’ve been listening to what people think of this book and the series and it’s very interesting because it really works as a mirror to whatever you’re feeling at the moment you see them. It’s the projective power of images. I guess I like lonely people in general and that’ what attracts me to shoot them in the first place, the reason might be because my parents only had me and I was raised in an environment where I would play all by myself. Having said this, the images in the book have a lot of me in it even though that’s not clearly obvious.
There’s really no specific message to the reader. I just want the viewer to be engaged in the scenes and get into the poetic quality of the people they’re looking at. If I can capture the attention and make you imagine situations like frames from a movie, if that’s sufficient to trigger the imagination, I’m very satisfied.
Q. This is a book ideally suited to the atmosphere generated by BW imagery. Do you also work in colour?
Very rarely do I shoot with color film. Sometimes when I want to try something different I do it, but I find better results almost always by shooting black and white. I believe the reason being that it’s easier for me to see the world and what would work better in black and white. It’s more neutral and the different shades of grey also interest me. Besides, I believe when we’re looking at a black and white image our eye is less distracted and we can enjoy better to look at the lines, composition, structure, light, shadows, textures and overall atmosphere.
Q. An obvious question. Whats next?
Next is promoting this book and doing exhibitions and distribution. I’ve put a lot of myself into this project and being a self-published book means I have to do all the work and communication by myself. It’s not a bad thing, but it demands a lot of time I could be shooting or thinking of more work.
If all goes according with plan, I estimate to have a new book ready in one or two years. It will continue from where this one started but something perhaps more conceptual and hopefully a step further.
State of Mind by Nuno Moreira
- 287 x 200mm
- 112 pages with 79 photographs
- Limited to 500 copies
- ISBN 978-989-20-4151-3
- 35 Euro
Copies may be purchased directly from the artist at www.nmphotos.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org
21 December 2013 § 1 Comment
Photobooks are a strange art form unto themselves. Some photographers see individual images as the ultimate expression of their craft whilst for others the photo book is the essential form. The sum of many parts, they comprise individual photographic works, not necessarily of high individual quality, but when edited together they make a greater whole.
Something unique is created not only from the images and their editing but also from the feel and texture of the paper as well as the design, typography, size and layout and, often compared to plays or film, they may well also have a dramatic narrative. (Anyone with any further interest in the art of the photobook should certainly make efforts to see the definitive work: The Photobook – A History by Parr & Badger.)
The Portuguese photographer, Nuno Moreira has, with State of Mind, created a perfect example of such an artwork. This is a photobook comprising works from his personal archive constructed and captured over a period of several years of travelling covering such diverse locations as Japan, Portugal, Hungary, Malaysia, Spain, South Korea, Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Taiwan.
What is perhaps initially surprising however is that the images do not indicate the diversity of these locations, but rather the opposite. The book brings them together under a unifying umbrella where continents, countries and cities melt into a statement on the humanity of their populations.
The people here are shown as a series of individuals or small groups. Sometimes we just glimpse their shadows, backs or reflections, sometimes just traces of their existence. A foot steps in to a railway carriage, shadows pass each other on a busy (we assume) pavement, a woman struggles with an umbrella in a sea of snowy tyre tracks or passengers gaze blankly from train windows.
There is a lot of travelling going on. People walking the streets, in stations, cafes and trains. There are roads, pavements, walkways and waiting areas. Through constant change and movement Moreira has found a unity in these divergent peoples. Perhaps through his own experiences of travelling these represent stills within a continuous journey. We do however see the diversity of the individuals, each with their own thoughts and in these silent moments.
The title State of Mind could ultimately then refer to not only the individuals pictured, but also be an observation of the collective whole or indeed an ongoing picture of the mental state of Moreira himself during his travels. It is a photobook of the highest quality where the individual images are actually often compelling works of art in themselves but it is however as a photobook they indeed work best.
- State of Mind
- 287 x 200mm
- 112 pages with 79 photographs
- Limited to 500 copies
- ISBN 978-989-20-4151-3
- 35 Euro
Copies may be purchased directly from the artist at www.nmphotos.org or email email@example.com
A Q & A with the artist will follow soon in another blog.
- Interesting Photobooks for 2013 (thephotobook.wordpress.com)
- Mother Jones’ Photographers Pick the Best Photobooks of 2013 (motherjones.com)
- TIME Picks the Best Photobooks of 2013 (lightbox.time.com)