This major survey exhibition of Idris Khan’s work at The New Art Gallery Walsall features many of his significant bodies of work drawing from his range of interests from classical music to religion. Khan works with photography, sculpture, film, painting and installation adding layers upon layers to conceal and reveal.
As well as his earliest work White Court (2001), a photograph of a squash court taken at his former primary school in Walsall where his mother use to play, there are new sculptural works, seen for the first time. The exhibition is a quiet, sublime, sensitive and immaculate monochrome display.
Working in collaboration with photographer Mark Wright to present his ongoing project at Format International Photography Festival 2017 and to commission new writing by Gemma Padley and Simon Constantine in the form of a new exhibition and publication.
The work is made with the communities affected by fracking decisions in northern England. In his work Wright considers the experiences, lifestyles and habitats of the communities affected by policy decisions that will impact on the landscape and their way of life. Wright has spent time with these communities working on interviews and photography. Village, rural and agricultural communities are the most obviously affected by national government policies relating to the new gas drilling procedures by giant, global chemical companies.
Wright’s practice is based upon in-depth research, written material and absorbing himself in a landscape or community. In the new work fracking is clearly seen, not as a ‘local’ problem but one that gravitates around a central place and a collection of people. The environmental and social concerns are universal and relevant to all of us. In his work Wright makes the issues identifiable rather than literal or geographically specific.
Evolution Explored is an exhibition of works curated from the Magnum Photos archive and presented in the public realm in Shrewsbury, from February – April 2017. The project is a Grain Projects collaboration with Shrewsbury Business Improvement District and The Hive Arts Centre.Acclaimed photography agency Magnum Photos have worked in collaboration to curate an exhibition of stunning photographs made internationally by the world’s leading photographers.
The exhibition will be on show at two locations. The event coincides with International Darwin Day and Darwin’s birthday on 12th February.
The exhibition also links to Magnum Photos’ 70th anniversary which is to be marked by a series of international events, projects and partnerships.
Magnum Photos is a photographic co-operative owned by its photographer members. Noted for its diverse and distinctive work, Magnum chronicles the world and interprets its people, events, issues and personalities. It was founded in 1947 by four pioneers, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David Seymour.
Paris Photo, in its 20th anniversary year, was an inspiring, mesmerising and hectic celebration of all things photography. It was wonderful to experience the fair and all the participating events, galleries and museums around the city in such a vibrant atmosphere after the horrific attacks and tragedy of last year.
The fair included over 180 galleries and publishers in the most beautiful of spaces, the Grand Palais. On entering one is in no doubt that one is at the largest, most prestigious and important photography fair internationally. Amongst my favourite galleries Gagosian, Flowers, Purdy Hicks, Hamiltons and East Wing stood out. The fair showcased work by the most established galleries and masters of photography as well as smaller and more emerging galleries and photographers. Walking and negotiating yourself through the very busy isles and stumbling across photographs by Cecil Beaton, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Weegee and Sally Mann, to name but a few, was such a treat. The fair was a hotbed of the very best in photography old and new.
Paris Photo 2016
As well as the commercial galleries Paris Photo offers so much more and ‘The Pencil of Culture’ exhibition was a highlight. The exhibition included 100 remarkable works drawn from the Centre Pompidou designed to tell the story of its acquisitions. The institution has over 400,000 prints in its collections, one of the most important photography centres in the world. Andreas Gursky, Sherrie Levine, August Sander and Allan Sekula were amongst those on display. The title of the exhibition ‘Pencil of Culture’ refers to the progression of photography from Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature and remarks on photography’s progression to become an indicator of culture.
The fair, the participating galleries, curated spaces and the photo books space, which was a hive of activity, were a significant reflection on the changes in photography, photography consumption and audience engagement.
On venturing outside the fair and to three of my favourite spaces for photography I visited Le Bal, Jeu De Paume and Maison Europeene de la Photographie, all of which had the most stunning, unique and fascinating exhibitions.
Le Bal was hosting ‘Provoke’ an exhibition of Japanese photography from the 1960s which took the audience through political and social change and tensions via documentary photography and the back lash from art photography at that time. The exhibition was dynamic in its curation and mixed media and a feast for the eyes and senses informing us so much about Japanese society at that time. Jeu De Paume had the equally provocative and extraordinary ‘Uprisings’. This exhibition asked the audience member, what makes us rise up? The exhibition explored upheaval, tension, burden, unrest, insurrections and condemnations without scenes of aggression and violence. Both exhibitions showed people in solidarity through times of conflict and the essential role that photography plays as document and vehicle for change.
Maison Europeenne de la Photographie had five remarkable exhibitions, too many to see in one visit. Focussing on two solo exhibitions in the museum, the photographs of Andreas Serrano celebrated his portraiture and the way in which he depicts our troubled times through the people he chooses to photograph. His America series featured portraits of Ku Klux Klan members, beauty queens and many individuals of post 9/11 American politics and society including Donald Trump. The series made in his native Cuba were portraits of the beautiful, eccentric and bizaar. All were contemporary, loud and troubled portraits and yet evocative of the oil paintings of portraits by old masters. Works from his ‘Sign of the Times’ were also exhibited, a series of large scale portraits of homeless people, also exhibited were their signs as messages for help.
In huge contrast was Harry Callahan’s ‘Aix-en-Provence’. This exhibition featured the photographer’s black and white photographs from the late 1950s when he secured a sabbatical from his teaching at the Institute of Design in Chicago and settled in Provence. He photographed figures moving through the lights and shadows of the old town reminiscent of a scene from a Hitchcock film.
Paris Photo will never disappoint but 2017 was a remarkable year and befitting of an anniversary.
Ewen Spencer’s ‘Kick Over the Statues’ at Fabrica for Brighton Photo Biennial is an energetic, atmospheric, statement exhibition. Spencer is known for shooting for visually driven style magazines, focusing on youth culture and creating artwork and campaigns for bands such as The Streets and The White Stripes. The photographer created this work during the summer, along the streets of London’s Notting Hill Carnival, setting out to celebrate the culture, style and subcultures.
The exhibition is an honest depiction of youth culture and the streets. Here subculture is in the hands of the young, as they take and reinterpret the youth cultures of the past, re-appropriate, occupy the streets and urban spaces and fill them full of colour, energy and atmosphere. The space at Fabrica is curated to show the work as a visual, imposing feast, jauntily dominating and creating an unnerving but very enjoyable experience.
The exhibition, hosted by Brighton Photo Biennial at the Brighton University Gallery, seeks to distinguish the historical and contemporary expressions of the Black Dandy phenomenon in popular culture. This project features portraits of black young men who defy stereotype and our understanding of masculinity within the Black community. It intersects class, ideology, ethnicity and style.
The subjects are all black men yet they are diverse in ethnicity. They are photographed in in city-landscapes across three continents in a mix of Victorian fashions and traditional African fabrics. The project is not specific to locations or communities and acts as a visual counter argument to what has previously been embraced by the mainstream. The exhibition provokes and celebrates and is beautifully presented.
The Peter Kennard exhibition at mac, Birmingham, entitled ‘Off Message’ is a retrospective featuring works from 1968 – 2016, curated by Craig Ashley. The works featured are testimony as to why Kennard is considered one of Britain’s most important political artists.
Off Message, mac Birmingham
Kennard uses recognisable images, often from the media, works with them to ensure they become powerful, often unacceptable representations of war, politics and the impact of weapons and political decisions. An image of a broken missile, which can be seen in the exhibition, is perhaps the artists most famous work, a 1980 photo-montage he produced for the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
The exhibition and the work is as relevant today as it was when it was created and many of Kennard’s recent collaborations, including with Banksy, further evidence his relevance today.
The William Eggleston Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery features 100 works from the 1960s to the present day. Although small, and left wanting more, the exhibition is momentous and both the big and small moments captured hold significance. Eggleston’s pictures are the portraits of a place and time.
Born in Mississippi Eggleston photographed the south, the colour and the temperature. The exhibition starts with black and white photographs but even then Eggleston says he was thinking in colour. The earliest colour photograph is ‘By God it all Worked’ (1965) which was a joy to see. The boy pushing trolleys in the early evening heat and sunset, his golden hair, the metal trolleys and metallic reflections is an intimate story of an everyday scene.
Eggleston’s photographs are of the mundane and the eccentric lifestyles, they are psychologically ambiguous and show the shifting, changing, developing world. As to be expected the exhibition shows how much he was a pioneer and master of colour.
EAST MEETS WEST is an exhibition of contemporary photography and moving image by 16 emerging artists. This remarkable exhibition includes works that represent the talent and ambition of artists in the Midlands today.
The artists responded to an open call to practitioners based within the Midlands, or those who have graduated from a Midlands-based University in the past three years. The opportunity was devised in response to and was required to relate to the theme of ‘Leisure’ – a core theme explored in Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf exhibition at Quad, an installation exhibited during summer 2016.
The exhibition includes an ambitious, fascinating and diverse collection of interpretations, from projects delving into a broad range of ‘leisure’ activities and events including walking, swimming, collecting, drinking and travelling. The exhibition is a remarkable commentary on what people do today in their leisure time.
The exhibiting artists are; Jim Brouwer & Simon Raven, Jakki Carey, Theo Ellison, Attilio Fiumarella, Emma Georgiou, Anne Giddings, Daniel Hayes, Geoff Hodgson, Amy Huggett, Holger Martin, Tracey McMaster, George Miles, Marta Soul, Clive Wheeler and Dan Wheeler.
The project is a partnership with Format International Photography Festival, Quad, Derby and GRAIN Projects, supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
For British photographer Murray Responding To A Landscape is a photographic odyssey, an epic series of landscape works made over four years, to be premiered in an exhibition at mac, Birmingham in 2017 and to be featured in a limited edition photo book. Working in collaboration with Murray to produce and manage this significant project has seen ambitious new works realised that will feature in an exhibition, publication and symposium.
The project exhibited for the first time works made on Saddleworth Moor. Respresenting pictorial landscape photography, showing both the vastness of landscape and the microscopic detail of vegetation and geology; works that focus on light and texture and pay homage to Dutch seventeenth century landscape painting as well as in some cases appearing biblical and in others apocalyptic and other worldly. This is a personal series of work, where there is no evidence of human intervention or presence but a relationship between photographer and landscape. The exhibition and accompanying photobook were launched in November 2017.
Alongside the project I curated a symposium that looked at photographer’s relationship and response to the landscape they photograph, with speakers including Jem Southam and Chrystel Lebas.