Opening 2: ‘Urban Edge’ photographs by John Bodin at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th May – 30th May 2009


Opening night crowd for John Bodin exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

John Bodin photographs at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne


Opening and installation views of John Bodin’s exhibition Urban Edge at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne



“Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows … Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived …

Space calls for action, and before action, the imagination is at work. It mows and ploughs. We should speak of the benefits of all these imaginary actions.”

Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space



More interesting are the eerie contemplative photographs of John Bodin presented at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne, our second opening of the night. In a well presented show Bodin’s hyper-real photographs employ a limited colour palette to portray the constructed landscape of the urban fringe. The images work well because the artist leaves room for doubt in the mind of the viewer – what am I looking at, where is it, do I subconsciously remember these places? How do the photographs make me feel about the edges of the world, this strangeness that we inhabit? They engage the viewer in a fluid architecture of space and place.

Light and colour are important tools for Bodin and he plays with their form, darkening pavements, shooting at night, making subtle negative interpretations of roads and underground car-parks while desaturating buildings, landscapes and skies of ‘natural’ colour. Walls bleed in Witchhunt (2007) and then you work out the photograph is taken under a bridge with a pavement, graffiti providing the title of the work. Blue light emotes from behind the cloaked window of a house in Shrouded (2005) and you are left wondering by the crazed cellular like constructions of As if by Nature (2007).

Haunting and elegiac these compositions are worthy of your attention.

Lovely to meet Catherine Fogarty and John Bodin. Thank you for your help!

Dr Marcus Bunyan


John Bodin. 'Witchhunt' 2007


John Bodin (Australian)


John Bodin. 'Shrouded' 2005


John Bodin (Australian)


John Bodin. 'As If By Nature' 2007


John Bodin (Australian)
As If By Nature



Urban Edge continues on from the 2006 ‘Urban Abstraction’ exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery by introducing contrasting elements and structure from the natural world alongside stark semi-abstracted urban scapes. Whilst we may at first perceive these as opposing forces, I contend that the integration is more harmonious than we think.”

John Bodin



When John Bodin takes a risk – which indeed he seems to do aplenty – he does so with a self-assurance that would make many photographers – and artists in general – weep.

All the clichés are there in his work – the towering skyscraper, the car traversing the road at dusk, the pitted track through the woods. But when Bodin frames his image something quite magical occurs. Rather than raise an eyebrow and say – ‘seen it all before’ – instead we are seduced into the deep chiaroscuro, the inarguably romantic, shadowy mis en scene.

Bodin has said that his photographs “comment on the conditioning process of familiarisation.” Indeed, the strange moment of familiarity is immediately cushioned by the sensual softness of tone he employs. If anything, it is the shock of the old.

Bodin has said that his study in philosophy and meditation serve as a visual source of reflection and are integral to his image making.

Whether it is a distinctly phallic office tower or the moments of surrealism in a found structure in the rural countryside, Bodin’s work exudes a strange peacefulness, a distinctly contemplative air. Everything he grabs from reality is given Bodin’s own air of tranquility. He doesn’t eschew colour exactly, but he tones it down, blanketing his subjects in a kind of downy, nostalgic but not quite melancholic fashion that links his entire oeuvre.

A work such as Lover’s Lane – a sandy track somewhere by the coast – links his sensual eye with a not altogether comforting sense of intimacy. The shadows of the trees encroach in an almost threatening tangle of dark shapes – the ideal place to reassure a trembling lass as they wander into the dark.

In 2006, the renowned fellow-photographer Les Horvat said in an opening speech that Bodin’s “stated interests in philosophy and meditation serve as a fertile source of reflection, integral to his image making. His images cleverly explore the contrast between the form and the aesthetic of the landscape. They do this by examining the utility of urban structure, and juxtaposing it against an aesthetic emotional sensibility that is evocatively expressed through his images.

“The paradox he lays before us is that on one hand, they ingeniously remind us of our human incursions in the natural world; on the other, they suggest that the significance of the landscape is actually assigned by these incursions,” stated Horvat.

Bodin has travelled extensively and in 2003 he served a short residency in New Delhi, India. Closer to home he held a solo show in May 2006 and participated in 11 group exhibitions over the last six years. He was a finalist in the 2005 New Social Commentaries Acquisitive Prize and the acclaimed Prometheus Visual Art Award in 2007. The respect Bodin holds amongst his peers is renowned and, as this show attests, will only grow with time.

Ashley Crawford. “John Bodin,” in Photofile 86 2009, p. 14


John Bodin in front of his work at the opening of his exhibition 'Urban Edge' at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne


Artist John Bodin in front of his work Lover’s Lane (2007, left) and Object of Speculation (2008, right) at the opening of his exhibition Urban Edge at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne


John Bodin. 'Midnight Solitude' 2005


John Bodin (Australian)
Midnight Solitude


John Bodin. 'Stumbling into Grace' 2008


John Bodin (Australian)
Stumbling into Grace
Type c print
120 x 80 cm


John Bodin. 'Mondrian in Berlin' 2005


John Bodin (Australian)
Mondrian in Berlin
Type C-print
60 x 80cm


John Bodin. 'Adrenalin Addiction' 2006


John Bodin (Australian)
Adrenalin Addiction
Type-C photograph
108 x 183cm



Anita Traverso Gallery
PO Box 7001, Hawthorn North 3122

Mobile: 0408 534 034

Anita Traverso Gallery website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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