Art Talk

Art Talk

Clare Richardson, Between mood, probe and concept

The photography exhibition from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London at the NGMA (January 23 to February 27) brings an exquisite array of major works from different countries.

Like its title “Something That I’ll Never Really See”, taken from Gavin Turk’s self-portrait with closed eyes pointing to thought process instead of surface depiction, the images in a variety of contemporary ways use as well as transform the medium, so ingrained in how we perceive reality at present, to enhance recognition of the mood or behaviour of the world, to probe its hidden character through intuition and, increasingly, through concept often read indicated by headings.

The directly, sensitively observed immediacy can reveal and heighten the meditative stillness of ordinary interiors (Toby Glanville), the strange poetry of discarded things (Vinca Petersen), the mess screened off by the deceptive promises of billboards (Stephen Gill) or the exuberant defiance and softness behind of spectacular cross-dressing (Nan Golding).

Subtly calculated, juxtaposed foci from within the given can unveil urban power structures (David Spero), while stressing shadow and flatness areas in landscape may impart it with intimate brooding (Gerhard Stranberg).

In dual or multiple confrontations of prints with similar or contrary angles complex phenomena come through, far from evident trajectories between teaching at the podium and learning in the audience (Naglaa Walker), the revelatory potential linking mask and face (Albrecht Tubke), the mysteries of railways carrying life everywhere (Andrew Cross) and protecting fragile human and plant life from the elements (Olga Chernysheva). Some artists capture reality as it stages itself, from the imitation period steam fair stage (Robin Grierson) to the jigsaw puzzle of familial everyday (Richard Billingham).

Some others stage reality gently with the help of its own properties to make it look natural (Hellen Van Meene), enter it in an almost theatrical performance (Cindy Sherman) or shoot a head painted with floral motifs to sense our connectedness with nature (Huang Yan).

Grasping the actual atmosphere of a raw-lyrical nook (Roger Ballen) or children’s organic immersion Clare Richardson), shots without losing their photographic quality may approximate effects of drawing and sculpture. Pictures become manipulated by narrative elongation to allude to Chinese scrolls (Wang Quingsong) or by dream-like obfuscating objects, persons and their images (Tim Walker).

The technique is altered by superimposing and blending of shots for the layered forest mood (Nicholas Hughes), by re-shooting photographs under faded fluorescent pigments for an abandoned room aura (Andy Lock) and by letting dust mingle with moonscapes to heighten their alien-ness (Eva Stenram). Forgetting the camera, sliced plant seeds are stimulated to print circular textures reminding of young tissues and cosmic formations (Garry Fabian Miller) and the sun burns an open line of force in the negative (Chris McCaw).

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