Photo London 2019
Photographs I photographed at Photo 2019
17th May 2019
These are the images that attracted my attention at this year's show. I thought that noting the categories and types of photographs that I appreciate might produce some indications on where to take my own work.
The images are shown, more or less, in the order I encountered them. The artists are listed alphabetically in the table below, linked to the images taken.
- Jessica Backhaus
- Gabriele Basilico
- Isabel Brison
- Jeff Brouws
- Michal Cala
- Anton Corbijn
- Marianne Csáky
- Paul Cupido
- Mitch Epstein
- Roger Fenton
- Ralph Gibson
- David Goldblatt
- Elijah Gowin
- Stane Jagodic
- Miho Kajoika
- Zhang Kechun
- Andre Kertesz
- Egle Kisieliute
- Vitas Luckus
- Linda McCartney
- Klea McKenna
- Vivian Maier
- Yoshinori Mizutani
- Daido Moriyama
- Paolo Pellegrin
- Matthew Pillsbury
- Anikó Robitz
- Gregory Scott
- Casper Sejersen
- Stephen Shore
- Joel Sternfeld
- Ben Thomas
- Santeri Tuori
- Gavin Turk
Thomas, Pillsbury, Sternfeld, Kechun
I was quite taken with the large architecture shots close to the entrance, but much better was to follow.
Brison, Backhaus, Brouws, Gowin, Goldblatt
B1 (Brison) and B8 (Gowin) appear in my favourites, but the Brison only just - her works are Photoshop constructs and a delight to see - gallery link. The Gowin reminded me of Baldessari's Throwing Three Balls In The Air To Get A Straight Line (Best Of Thirty-Six Attempts), 1973
Tuori, Turk, Corbijn, Kertesz
Corbijn's Nick Cave, London, 1996 (C6) is the pick of this group. The size of the print (125x125cm), emphasised by the viewer in the shot is justified in this case as it really fills the space. I imagine it would be rather intimidating to hang it in one's front room. C8 is either Kylie Minogue or PJ Harvey.
McCartney, Pellegrin, Moriyama, Gibson
I do appreciate a self portrait and McCartney's (D1 and D3) are nicely judged. The Ralph Gibson (D10) nearly made the cut.
Gregory Scott's contribution was two moving images. It is a very clever effect at first sight, but I would soon tire of it, whereas the still image of Fay Godwin's Chatsworth Lion, 1988 has hung in my front room for years and continues to give pleasure every time I look up at it.
Epstein, Basilico, Robitz
F1 is from the entrance to another part of Somerset House. I had encountered Basilico's Contact (F4) a few days before attending this show (I cannot recall where) and could not make sense of it. It is only when the real (and large) thing is seen close up that you realise that it is the impression made by various chair designs on a naked bottom that is being demonstrated - it is made clearer by the closeups below (C5 and C6). Ingenious and worth a visit in itself, but perhaps exploitative in today's terms (and, of course, equally so in 1968, though this might not have been discerned at the time).
The lighting in this gallery with terrible — this is not sunlight breaking through the branches, it is harsh lighting reflecting from the glass.
I am a great admirer of Shore's written work, see The nature of photographs (2007), but took little from the vast prints on show here. Although anointed Master of Photography 2019 and despite the written material's reassurance that Shore is "transforming seemingly mundane scenarios and objects into subjects of thoughtful consideration" (fig. G12), with the exception of fig. G4, which makes clever use of a door sign, the main Shore display was large snaps of litter. Some of his older pieces, reproduced on a much smaller scale were good photographs and so it is, to me, an error of judgement (in which the artist was presumably involved) to feature the litter shots.
Jagodic, Kisieliute, Sejersen, McKenna, Cala, Fenton, Luckus
Three images were selected for the favourites from this group. Jagodic's H1 will ensure I buy a tin of sardines in the near future, though I only intend to photograph its original contents. Sejersen's playing card, H5, is my favourite photograph in the whole show and I'll try to get to the COB Gallery to see some more. The person manning the desk said that the series is designed to illustrate the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…), though this is not clear from the gallery page. Business cards with the image were available (H§), H7 and H8 are the handouts. H5 is perfectly judged: the selection and proportion of background; the placement of the Ace on top of some other cards; the large size of the print. I would buy one if I had 2½ large to spare (mind you, that would nearly buy a s/h Fuji GFX 50R body). As it is, I have a camera and I'm looking on eBay for a suitable old pack of cards.
H18 (last but one) is also in the favourites. I think this is Vitus Luckus but I cannot find any references online. This is the only photograph that prompted a spontaneous conversation — an American visitor saw me snapping it and told me how much she loves still lives: her husband preferred a nearby image of a dog. The Luckus is a real original: I hope it is as it appears — a broken mirror with a live figure arranged to reflect perfectly.
There was an extensive range of Fentons on show: this (H14) was the most prosaic. The handout is also included
Mizutani, Cupido, Csáky, Kajoika
The sweets in the bowl had the name of the gallery on them. A nice conceit.
There was a room of small series, mostly it seemed from Japanese artists. I4 is in the favourites — I am always on the lookout for natural arrangements of birds. Several more could have been chosen.
The Csáky piece (I12-I14) is a strange one, two pieces of wood, painted white, protruding and the image cut to coincide. Reason and purpose unclear.
The Maiers were well worth a look. The story of the archive saved from destruction is quite compelling, though many of her images are quite routine. Her self portraits are endearing and occupied a wall of the show. J4 has been chosen.
In order of subjective merit, favourite first.
[21May 17:44] Ten is more than I had planned to choose, but so it goes. I made a jotting in the conclusions below, earlier today.
[21May 08:35] First thoughts (before putting up the several favourites) — I enjoy still lives, B&W, modestly-sized prints, though not always and not necessarily all at once. And self portraits.
[21May 18:35] each of the selections has at least of those attributes, apart from the last.
Not a great deal has been learned, then, but persevere with the still lives.