Posts Tagged ‘British contemporary photography

15
Jun
12

Exhibition: ‘Gillian Wearing’ at Whitechapel Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 28th March – 17th June 2012

Galleries 1, 8 and Victor Petitgas Gallery

 

Many thankx to the Whitechapel Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Dancing in Peckham' 1994

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Dancing in Peckham
1994
Colour video with sound
25 minutes
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Self Portrait at 17 Years Old' 2003

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Self Portrait at 17 Years Old
2003
Framed C-type print
115.5 x 92 cm
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. 'HELP' 1992-3

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
HELP
1992-3
From the series Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say
C-type print mounted on aluminium
Dimensions variable
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. 'I'M DESPERATE' 1992-3

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
I’M DESPERATE 
1992-3
From the series Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say
C-type print mounted on aluminium
Dimensions variable
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963) 'WILL BRITAIN GET THROUGH THIS RECESSION?' 1992-3

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
WILL BRITAIN GET THROUGH THIS RECESSION?
1992-3
From the series Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say
C-type print mounted on aluminium
Dimensions variable
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

 

The Whitechapel Gallery presents the first major international survey of Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing’s photographs and films which explore the public and private lives of ordinary people. Fascinated by how people present themselves in front of the camera in flyon-the-wall documentaries and reality TV, Gillian Wearing explores ideas of personal identity through often masking her subjects and using theatre’s staging techniques.

This major exhibition surveys Wearing’s work from the early photographs Signs that Say What You Want Them to Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say (1992-3) to her latest video Bully (2010) and also includes several new photographs made specially for the Whitechapel Gallery exhibition.

Visitors to the exhibition enter a film set-style installation showcasing photographs and films in ‘front and back stage’ areas. Highlights include a striking photograph of the artist posing as her younger self, Self-Portrait at 17 Years Old (2003), Dancing in Peckham (1994), a film which blurs the boundaries between public space and private expression as Wearing dances in the middle of a shopping mall, and the UK premiere of recent film Bully (2010). New photographic works shown for the first time include two portraits of Wearing as artists August Sander and Claude Cahun as part of her ongoing series of iconic photographers, as well as still lives of flowers, looking back to the rich symbolism of the great age of 17th century Dutch painting.

A gallery is dedicated to Wearing’s well-known photographs giving people the chance to write what they were thinking at that moment, titled Signs that Say What You Want Them to Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say (1992-3). The series includes a city worker holding a sign saying, ‘I’m Desperate’, a policeman holding ‘Help!’ and another person’s sign ‘Will Britain ever get through this recession’.

The exhibition also includes a series of private viewing booths for three confessional videos shown together for the first time and in which Gillian Wearing asked people to describe intensely personal experiences. These include Trauma (2000) where sitters describe childhood traumas while wearing a mask. As well as the powerful videos Secrets and Lies (2000) and Confess All On Video. Don’t Worry, You Will Be In Disguise. Intrigued? Call Gillian… (1994). Alongside these works the video 2 into 1 (1997) sees a mother lip synching the voices of her twin sons and vice versa as they describe their relationship.

Press release from Whitechapel Gallery website

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Bully' 2010

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Bully
2010
Colour video for projection with sound
7 minutes 55 seconds
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. '2 into 1' 1997

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
2 into 1
1997
Colour video for monitor with sound
4 minutes 30 seconds
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Trauma' 2000

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Trauma
2000
Colour video for monitor with sound
30 minutes
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Cahun Holding a Mask of My Face' 2012

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Me as Cahun Holding a Mask of My Face
2012
Framed bromide print
149 x 120.5 cm
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

Gillian Wearing. 'Me as Sander' 2012

 

Gillian Wearing (English, b. 1963)
Me as Sander
2012
Framed bromide print
149 x 98.8cm
© the artist
Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

 

 

Whitechapel Gallery
77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX
Phone: + 44 (0) 20 7522 7888

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Thursdays and Fridays 11am  9pm
Closed Monday

Whitechapel Gallery website

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23
Mar
12

Review: ‘Martin Parr: In Focus’ at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th March – 31st March 2012

 

Martin Parr. 'England. New Brighton' 1983-1985

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983-1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

 

This is a fine exhibition of the work of celebrated English photographer Martin Parr at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, albeit with one proviso. The mainly large colour prints are handsomely displayed in plain white frames within the gallery space and are taken from his well known series: Last Resort, Luxury, New British and British Food. Parr’s work is at its best when he concentrates on the volume of space within the image plane and the details that emerge from such a concentrated visualisation – whether it be the tension points within the image, assemblage of colour, incongruity of dress, messiness of childhood or philistine nature of luxury.

The best photographs have a wonderful frisson about them, a genuine love of and resonance with the things he is imaging. This frisson can be seen in all of the photographs in this posting but most notably in :

  • The incursion of the surreal red colour to left in England. New Brighton (above) and Parr’s masterful use of vertical and horizontal lines within the image. Note the verticality: of the child’s toy, the two children themselves, the pillars of the pavilion and the lighthouse holding the whole image together at right. If this lighthouse were not there the eye would fall out of the image. As it is it is contained, forcing the viewer to look closely at the absurdity of the melting ice cream and the splashes that have fallen on the ground.
    .
  • The complexity of the photograph England. New Brighton (below) where the eye does not know what to rest upon, constantly jumping from object to object. Do you look at the women on the ground, the shoes to right, the piece of fabric to left, the screaming baby, the sunlit pink umbrella, the women in blue bikini up the ramp, the long elongated shadowed wall with peek-a-boo heads leading to the outlined figures at the vanishing point of image – the top of the ramp. The understanding of light (with the use of flash) and the construction of the image is superlative. Wow!
    .
  • The incongruity evidenced in the photograph England, Ascot. 2003: the over tight pink sateen dress with unfortunate stain (which the eye is irrevocably drawn to), applique bow linked through to hideous flower embossed handbag which then contrasts with the seated women behind in hat and purple floral dress. In the large print in the gallery the background is more out of focus than in the small reproduction here, allowing the viewer’s eye an avenue of escape via the grass and deck chair beyond.
    .
  • The delicious, choreographed mise-en-scène of Australia, The Melbourne Cup. 2008 – the suits, ties and glasses, the teezed hair, the alcohol – where none of the participants is looking at the camera, where only the ladies hand clutches at the back of the man’s shoulder. They look down, they look left, they look right, they look away, they never engage with each other or the viewer. The critical space in this assemblage is the distance between the man and the woman’s noses, that vitally small space of separation that is a synonym for the interactions occurring in the rest of the image. The blindness of Lux’ry, its crassness, its stain.

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And so it goes. The dirt under the fingernails of the child eating a doughnut, the lurid colours of the popsicle and jacket of the kid with dribble on his face, all fantastic. There are moments of stasis, for example in the contemplative photograph Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011 (below) taken from Parr’s new series Australia, where Parr has photographed Australian life in three Western Australian port cities, Fremantle, Broome and Port Hedland. See the video at the bottom of the posting and listen to Parr talk about his work.

This is all fine and dandy, dressed up in polka dots and a lurid bow tie, but when the photographs become too reductive, as in the large photograph in the exhibition England. Dorset. West Bay. 1997 (see first column, fourth down) there is really not enough to hang your hat on. This feeling of over simplification, as though the photographer has said to himself “here’s something I have seen that you haven’t recognised, and I think it is important for you to recognise it” – the perceived essentialness of the object – can become a bit strained. I know that these type of images are part of the series about British or Scottish food or about objects from a specific place but do they really have this grand an importance in the scheme of things? This feeling is reinforced in the exhibition, and this is my proviso to show, when the images such as Scotland. Glasgow. Fairy cakes. 1999, England. Blackpool. 1995 (bread and butter on a plate on red check cloth) are presented at A4 size surrounded by heavy white frames. These photographs have to be large to have any chance of working at all and at the small size they fall flat.

The size of a photograph raises interesting questions about the display of contemporary photography. The giant light boxes of Jeff Wall, the huge group portraits of Thomas Struth, the huge portraits of Thomas Ruff, the huge environments of Candida Hofer and the huge panoramas of Andreas Gursky (to name but a few) are all points in case. Would they work at a smaller size? No. They rely on scale and detail, visual impact for their effect: the same with Martin Parr. What is really ‘In Focus’ is the visualisation of the artist, his ability to envisage the final print at this large size. The A4 prints in this exhibition simply do not work at that size, for these photographs.

Think of Ansel Adams’ famous Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, Calif., (circa 1926). Originally printed as a contact 8″ x 10″ from the negative, Adams gradually increased the size of this image till it became a huge print as tall as a man in his later life. The image works at multiple sizes, it spoke to him (and the viewer) at all these sizes: the small contact is intense and gem-like, the larger imitating the monolithic structure of the Face itself. I feel that some large contemporary photographs are quite vacuous at this large size, that there is no reason for them to be at this size. In other words it is not appropriate for the image. Conversely it would seem that artists previsualise for this size in the end print, which is fine, but that the print cannot exist, cannot breathe in the world at a smaller size. Is this a problem? Does this matter? I believe it does, especially when a photograph is displayed at a size that simply doesn’t work. I was always taught to print a photograph at an appropriate size for the image, whatever size(s) that may be (and there can be multiples), as long as it has resonance for that particular image.

As evidenced in this exhibition, if the photograph cannot “work” at the size that it is to be exhibited then it should not be displayed at all – it is a diminution not just of the artists vision but of the resonance of the photograph, in this case going from large to small. In an upcoming posting about the retrospective of the work of American photographer Fransceca Woodman, there is an installation photograph of the exhibition at The Guggenheim, New York (see above). Her vintage prints (seen in the background) – small, intense visions – have been printed at a huge scale (with her permission) and they simply do not work at this floor to ceiling height. They have lost all of their intimacy, which is one of the strengths of her photography. Again, I believe it is a diminution of the artists vision and the integrity of the photograph, this time from small to large. Artists are not always right. The same can be said of the retrospective of Cartier-Bresson that I saw at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2005. One room out of four had very small, intense vintage prints in brown hues and the other three galleries had large 20″ x 24″ grainy prints with strong contrast that really ruined any response I had to the work as evidenced by the vintage prints. They were almost reproductions, a simulacra of the real thing. I had a feeling that they weren’t even by the artist himself. The same could be said here.

To conclude I would say this is a fine exhibition of large photographs by Martin Parr that would have been even more focused without the small A4 prints. They are joyous paeans to the quirky, incongruous worlds in which we live and circulate. They evidence life itself in all its orthogonal absurdity. I love ’em!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the artist and Niagara Galleries for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Francesca Woodman installation photograph at The Guggenheim Museum, New York

 

Francesca Woodman installation photograph at The Guggenheim Museum, New York. Note the small, vintage prints on the far wall.

 

Martin Parr. 'England. New Brighton' 1983-1985

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983-1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011.
From the series Australia
2011
Pigment print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'England, Ascot 2003'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England, Ascot. 2003.
From the series Luxury
1995-2009
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'Australia, The Melbourne Cup 2008'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
Australia, The Melbourne Cup. 2008.
From the series Luxury
1995-2009
Pigment print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'England. Ramsgate. 1996'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. Ramsgate. 1996.
From the series New British
1994-1996
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 5
105.5 x 157.5 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'England. Bristol. Car boot sale. 1995'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. Bristol. Car boot sale. 1995.
From the series British Food
1994-1995
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 33
18 x 25.5 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

 

No Worries: Martin Parr – FotoFreo 2012

Magnum photographer Martin Parr was asked by FotoFreo Festival Director Bob Hewitt to photograph three Western Australian port cities, Fremantle, Broome and Port Hedland. Photographer David Dare Parker was assigned to document the project, the work titled No Worries.

© David Dare Parker

 

 

Niagara Galleries
245 Punt Road
Richmond, Melbourne
Victoria, 3121
Australia
Phone: +61 3 9429 3666

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday 12pm – 5pm

Niagara Galleries website

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01
Aug
11

Exhibition: ‘Adam Fuss A Survey of his Work: 1986/2010’ at Huis Marseille Museum for Photography, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 11th June – 4th September 2011

 

Many thankx to the Huis Marseille Museum for allowing me to publish the text and photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Adam Fuss. From the series 'My Ghost' 1999

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
From the series My Ghost
1999
Gelatine silver print photogram
195.3 x 141.3 cm
Unique piece
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. From the series 'My Ghost' 1999

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
From the series My Ghost
1999
Platinum print photogram
100.3  x 76.2 cm
Unique piece
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. 'Untitled' 2003 Digital pigment print

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
Untitled
2003
Digital pigment print
182.9 x 111.8 cm
Edition 6/7
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. 'Untitled' 1998 Cibachrome photogram

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
Untitled
1998
76.2 x 101.6 cm
Private Collection
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. 'Invocation' 1992 Cibachrome photogram

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
Invocation
1992
Cibachrome photogram
101.6 x 76.2 cm
Unique piece
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
© Adam Fuss

 

 

Distance

What immediately stands out with the work of Adam Fuss is that, both in terms of the chosen subject matter and in his approach to the photographic technique, he has greatly dissociated himself from conventional photography. That which Fuss produces is, in fact, still a photograph; but in order to achieve that, he did rid himself of all the finer luxuries available to users of the medium nowadays. Like a present-day alchemist, Fuss has mastered the medium’s most elementary and primitive forms; he sees just as much potential for creativity in technical knowledge as in the imagination, or the visionary power of the photographer.

His subjects (silhouettes, gossamer christening gowns, rabbits, butterflies, snakes, lace, smoke, drops of water) have also been removed from their natural habitats. In the studio they become so epitomised that they assume the strength and quality of a symbol, or icon, fraught with emotion. Fuss seems, figuratively speaking, to have given wings to his images: they have a weightless and elusive appearance, as though being supernatural in origin and import.

 

Bipolarity

Though ostensibly sublime, the work’s impact on the viewer is nevertheless one of predominantly earthly beauty. This may be a consequence of the bipolarity that lies at the heart of it. All of Fuss’s endeavours have a twofold focus: on matter and mind, on earth or water and the dynamics of fire or air – in short, on vital forces in relation to space and history. Sometimes, as a true photographic magician, he allows the vital fluids of animals (snakes, rabbits) literally to corrode the silver salts of the light-sensitive photographic emulsions. As though trying to allow the image and its model to share the same source of life.

In his technique as well, Fuss wants to reconcile, to connect, past and present. With this he goes back, through experimentation, to the source. Here and there his printing technique is reminiscent of the zeal and the limitations with which Daguerre and Fox Talbot, the disputed founders of photography, wanted to put their discoveries into practice. In the course of time, he came to master the various old and highly complex processes – that of the daguerreotype, the calotype, the photogram, the platinum print – to a degree that remains unsurpassed. Each of these works is unique, and their technical standard is unparalleled. Fuss’s accomplishments include the making of the world’s largest daguerreotypes. (Both daguerreotypes of the Taj Mahal on display here can be counted among these.)

 

‘Poetic Genius’

Throughout his work Adam Fuss seeks the very essence of the image; to him that lies particularly at the point where an observation of reality is so intensified that it takes on magical powers, so to speak. His outlook on this comes from the notion of ‘Poetic Genius’ expressed by the British poet, writer, engraver and painter William Blake (1757-1827). It seems that Fuss’s idea of producing daguerreotypes of poems and incorporating them into his work also began with Blake.

In Fuss’s extensive 1998 interview with Mark Haworth Booth (then Curator of Photography at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London) he explained this in relation to his photographs of babies in water, saying that the color photographs are actually not about an individual, a child. The titles Invocation, Journey, Wish have more to do with emotional, romantic ideas. What the image conveys is a feeling, a sensibility. This is no depiction of a baby in water, even though it may be that as well.

Fuss has an incomparable command of the photogram technique. Since 1988 he has been achieving astonishing results with this. The photogram is produced without a camera – and yields, by definition, a unique print. The physical and lifelike quality of these silhouettes is further heightened by the 1:1 scale on which this technique is based. The previously mentioned photographs of babies in water, from the series Invocation (a continuous series with silhouettes of children) are the earliest photograms shown here. Since 1999 Fuss has been making work which he titles My Ghost. Here the themes relate to memory, loss, but also images of remarkable beauty, such as those of peacock feathers. In this series his magnificent daguerreotypes play a leading role.”

Press release from the Huis Marseille Museum

 

Adam Fuss. 'For Allegra' from the series 'My Ghost' 2009 Daguerreotype

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
For Allegra
2009
From the series My Ghost
Daguerreotype
70 x 105 cm
Collection Richard Edwards, Aspen, Colorado
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. 'Untitled' 1988 Gelatin silver print photogram

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
Untitled
1988
Gelatin silver print photogram
144.8 x 141 cm
Unique piece
Collection Robin Katz
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. From the series 'My Ghost' 1997

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
From the series My Ghost
1997
Gelatin silver print photogram
160 x 104.1 cm
Collection Jan Widlund
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. 'Medusa' from the series 'Home and the World' 2010

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
Medusa
2010
From the series Home and the World
Gelatin silver print photogram
240 x 144.1 cm
Edition of 9
Unique print
Courtesy Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. From the series 'My Ghost' 1999

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
From the series My Ghost
1999
Gelatine silver print photogram
38 x 75 cm
Unique piece
Collection John Cheim
© Adam Fuss

 

Adam Fuss. 'Love' 1993

 

Adam Fuss (British, b. 1961)
Love
1993
Cibachrome photogram
124.5 x 98.4 cm
Unique piece
Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York
© Adam Fuss

 

 

Huis Marseille Museum for Photography
Keizersgracht 401
1016 EK Amsterdam

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday
11 – 18 hr

Huis Marseille Museum for Photography website

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15
May
11

Exhibition: ‘Gilbert & George: Jack Freak Pictures’ at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Exhibition dates: 25th February – 22nd May 2011

 

Gilbert & George standing in front of ‘Metal Jack’ (2008) from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ on show at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

 

Gilbert & George standing in front of Metal Jack (2008) from the series Jack Freak Pictures on show at Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Photo: Fred Dott © Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Fred Dott

 

 

“We are unhealthy, middle-aged, dirty-minded, depressed, cynical, empty, tired-brained, seedy, rotten, dreaming, badly-behaved, ill-mannered, arrogant, intellectual, self-pitying, honest, successful, hard-working, thoughtful, artistic, religious, fascistic, blood-thirsty, teasing, destructive, ambitious, colourful, damned, stubborn, perverted and good. We are artists.”

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Gilbert & George, 1980

 

 

More from the Jack Freak picture show!

Marcus

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Many thankx to Deichtorhallen Hamburg for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation view of ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ by Gilbert & George at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Installation view of ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ by Gilbert & George at Deichtorhallen Hamburg

 

Installation views of Jack Freak Pictures by Gilbert & George at Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Photos: Fred Dott © Deichtorhallen Hamburg/Fred Dott

 

 

According to the writer Michael Bracewell, “the Jack Freak Pictures are among the most iconic, philosophically astute and visually violent works that Gilbert & George have ever created.” The dominant pictorial element is the Union Jack, itself an internationally familiar, abstract, geometric pattern and a socially and politically charged symbol whose significance spans the cultural spectrum from contemporary fashion to aggressive national pride. Equally prominent, and linking the Jack Freak Pictures to almost every work previously created by the artists, are Gilbert & George themselves in a variety of guises: dancing, gurning, howling, watching, waiting. Sometimes their bodies seem complete; other times they have been fragmented or contorted. Invariably they feature as both subject and object, artwork and artist; they are players in the epic and complex pictorial drama they have created.

Set in the East End of London where Gilbert & George have lived and worked for over forty years, the Jack Freak Pictures bring numerous aspects of the modern world to life. Medals, flags, maps, street-signs, graffiti and other less immediately obvious motifs jostle for attention with the brickwork, buildings and even foliage of the contemporary urban environment in works that are densely layered and complexly nuanced to evoke (and sometimes conflate) a sense of past, present and future. They raise fundamental and rudimentary questions about religion, identity, politics, economics, sexuality and death. The Jack Freak Pictures reaffirm Gilbert & George’s status as pre-eminent Modernists and underline Robert Rosenblum’s observation that “of the singularity of their duality in life as art, there is little doubt.” Michael Bracewell’s view that they are “visionary artists in the lineage of William Blake” rings truer now than ever before.

Text from the White Cube website [Online] Cited 12/05/2011 no longer available online

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Christian England’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Christian England from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
254 x 528 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Frigidarium’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Frigidarium from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
381 x 604 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Street Party’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Street Party from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
381 x 604 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

 

With its major spring show, Deichtorhallen Hamburg is once again bringing stars of the international art world to Hamburg. Gilbert & George (born 1943 and 1942) have long since been acknowledged icons of contemporary art.

The exhibition will present the latest, wide-ranging group of pictures they have ever created. Called the “Jack Freak Pictures”. They will be on display in the cathedral-like setting of the large Deichtorhalle from February 25 to May 22, 2011 for the first time more or less in its entirety – some 120 pictures will be on view.

Gilbert & George’s large-format pictures present decidedly sacred and secular themes. In this case, Gilbert & George have created a group around the British national symbol, the Union Jack, with all its different connotations, from symbol of national pride through to the cult symbol of the British Pop Music world and countercultures. Surrounded by medals and amulets, the streets of London and the red, blue and white design of the British flag, as in their previous art here Gilbert & George are not only the creators of their own world of images, but also act as protagonists in it.

The “Jack Freak Pictures” are among the most symbolic, philosophically most elaborate and visually striking art Gilbert & George have ever created. Within Gilbert & George’s oeuvre as a whole they constitute the powerful concentration of the themes and emotions that the artists have now been exploring in their art for more than 40 years. In these pictures, the artists play the roles of both victim and monster, puppets of a cosmic revue, sleepless guardians of empty big-city streets and crazy-looking talking heads, as Michael Bracewell outlines in his essay in the exhibition catalog. The large pictures, do not address the individual constitution of the two artists but instead point up states of human existence and can be read as a description of the modern world from the artists’ point of view.

The exhibition is being organised by Deichtorhallen Hamburg and the British Council and will move on from Hamburg, albeit it on a smaller scale, to Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria. Hatje Cantz Verlag has brought out a catalog with an essay by Michael Bracewell and colour illustrations of all 153 works in the series.

Text from the Deichtorhallen Hamburg website

 

Gilbert & George. ‘War Dance’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
War Dance from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
151 x 190 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Britainers’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Britainers from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
254 x 302 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Stuff Religion’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Stuff Religion from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
317 x 302 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Union Dance’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Union Dance from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
© Gilbert & George

 

Gilbert & George. ‘Brits’ from the series ‘Jack Freak Pictures’ 2008

 

Gilbert & George
Brits from the series Jack Freak Pictures
2008
226 x 190 cm
© Gilbert & George

 

 

Deichtorhallen Hamburg
Deichtorstrasse 1-2
20095 HAMBURG
Tel. +49 (0)40 32103-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
Closed Mondays

Deichtorhallen Hamburg website

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18
Nov
10

Exhibition: ‘We English’ by Simon Roberts at Robert Morat Galerie, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 2nd October – 4th December 2010

 

Simon Roberts. 'Skegness Beach, Lincolnshire, 12th August 2007' from the series 'We English'

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Skegness Beach, Lincolnshire, 12th August 2007 from the series We English
2007

 

 

Being an ex-pat English these photographs have a very special resonance for me. They are beautifully visualised and resolved photographs that do not rely too heavily on the artist’s conceptualisation of landscape (the ever present hand of the artist) in the construction of narrative within the picture plane. In other words the artist allows the image to speak for itself, “a sensitive, resolved response to scenes of ordinary people and how they inhabit and utilise the spaces around them,” with the layering of meaning, the back stories (boundaries, sites of contestation, notions of identity and colonisation of spaces amongst others) kept in balance with the sublime elements of the constructed landscape. The photographs work all the better for this restraint and offer the viewer sensual images that are open and receptive, spaces that are invigorating and enlightening, Roberts has created a magical series of photographs that poignantly capture the essence of what it is to be English.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Simon Roberts for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. The permission is much appreciated. Please click on the photographs to view a larger version of the image.

 

Simon Roberts. 'South Downs Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007' from the series 'We English'

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
South Downs Way, West Sussex, 8th October 2007 from the series We English
2007

 

Simon Roberts. 'Heberdens Farm, Finchdean, Hampshire, 20th December 2007' from the series 'We English'

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Heberdens Farm, Finchdean, Hampshire, 20th December 2007 from the series We English
2007

 

Simon Roberts. 'Rushey Hill Caravan Park, Peacehaven, East Sussex, 21st December 2007' from the series 'We English'

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Rushey Hill Caravan Park, Peacehaven, East Sussex, 21st December 2007 from the series We English
2007

 

Simon Roberts. 'Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, 28th December 2007' from the series 'We English'

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Fantasy Island, Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, 28th December 2007 from the series We English
2007

 

Simon Roberts. 'Mad Maldon Mud Race, River Blackwater, Maldon, Essex, 30th December 2007' from the series 'We English'

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Mad Maldon Mud Race, River Blackwater, Maldon, Essex, 30th December 2007 from the series We English
2007

 

Simon Roberts 'The Haxey Hood, Haxey, North Lincolnshire, 5th January 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
The Haxey Hood, Haxey, North Lincolnshire, 5th January 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

 

“We English is the result of a year’s travel around England by Roberts, in a motorhome, documenting its landscape on a large format 5 x 4 camera. Informed by the photography of his predecessors Tony Ray Jones, John Davies and Martin Parr, and by the romantic tradition of English landscape painting, Roberts depicts the English at leisure within pastoral landscapes in a manner that is entirely his own. The work is beautiful, accessible and often heart-warming. This is the most significant contribution to the photography of England since John Davies’s ‘The British Landscape’.”

Chris Boot, Publisher, 2009

 

Artist statement

Initially, I was simply thinking about Englishness and how my upbringing had been quintessentially English. How much of this was an intrinsic part of my identity? In what ways was my idea of what constitutes an ‘English life’ or English pastimes (if there are such things) different to those of others’? My own memories of holidays, for example, were infused with very particular landscapes; the lush green-ness around Derwent Water or the flinty grey skies – and pebbles – of Angmering’s beaches. It seemed to me that these landscapes formed an important part of my consciousness of who I am and how I ‘remember’ England.

Seeking out ordinary people engaged in diverse pastimes, I aim to show a populace with a profound attachment to its’ local environments and homeland. We English explores the notion that nationhood – that what it means to be English – is to be found on the surface of contemporary life, encapsulated by banal everyday rituals and activities.

My first major body of work, Motherland, was a study about Russian identity. The images are not clichéd representations of a Russia ground down by poverty and despair, rather, photographs of a land of dignified people empowered by a growing optimism and a deep rooted sense of national esteem.

The same themes of identity, memory, history and attachment to place – of belonging – resonate throughout We English. To access these abstractions, I’ve produced a series of colour landscape photographs, which record places where groups of people congregate for a common purpose and shared experience. Since landscape has long been used as a commodity to be consumed, I focus on leisure activities as a way of looking at England’s shifting cultural and aesthetic identity. The photographs are rooted in a consciousness of my own attachment to my homeland and are an intentionally lyrical rendering of everyday English landscapes. They draw on issues of cultural geography and contemporary landscape theory, together with vestiges of English romanticism.

We English is not just a mode of social and anthropological commentary, although there are important elements of this in the work; more, it aims to constitute a sensitive, resolved response to scenes of ordinary people and how they inhabit and utilise the spaces around them. The photographs also explore the way in which landscapes can become a site of conflict or unease, where perceived notions of nationhood and quintessential Englishness are challenged, as diverse social groups seek to colonise shared public spaces. Notions of limits and boundaries re-appear throughout the work, reflected in the rivers, trees and hedges that create physical divisions, delineating and defining the limits of human interaction. Indeed, leisure activities often occur at boundary points: the edge of towns and cities, next to lakes and reservoirs, alongside footpaths and mountain ridges.

The project derives its title from the suggestion that photographer and subjects – we ‘English’ – are complicit in the act of representation. (During the five months that I travelled around England in a motorhome, people were invited to post their ideas about events I could photograph on a dedicated website and to share their experiences of living in their particular locality).

The project has been supported by Arts Council England, the National Media Museum and the John Kobal Foundation. A monograph of the photographs will be published in September 2009 by Chris Boot Ltd.

 

Simon Roberts 'Grantchester Meadows, Cambridgeshire, 23rd January 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Grantchester Meadows, Cambridgeshire, 23rd January 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

Simon Roberts 'Cotswold Water Park, Shornecote, Gloucestershire, 11th May 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Cotswold Water Park, Shornecote, Gloucestershire, 11th May 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

Simon Roberts 'Paul Herrington's 50th Birthday, Grantchester, Cambridgeshire, 15th June 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Paul Herrington’s 50th Birthday, Grantchester, Cambridgeshire, 15th June 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

Simon Roberts 'Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, Nottinghamshire, 16th June 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, Nottinghamshire, 16th June 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

Simon Roberts 'Blackpool Promenade, Lancashire, 24th July 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Blackpool Promenade, Lancashire, 24th July 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

Simon Roberts 'Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire, 7th August 2008' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire, 7th August 2008 from the series We English
2008

 

Simon Roberts 'Bradford Bandits BMX Club, Peel Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire, 17th October 2009' from the series 'We English' 2008

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
Bradford Bandits BMX Club, Peel Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire, 17th October 2009 from the series We English
2008

 

 

Robert Morat Galerie
Linienstraße 107
10115 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 25209358

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 12 – 6 pm

Robert Morat Galerie website

Simon Roberts website

We English 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, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr 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.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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