All posts filed under: Fine Art

Chen Wei – Slumber Song

In a London gallery, Chen Wei prepared for his first British show: we see a chair pelted with tomatoes, a flaking fountain of a stooped child covered in coins, a smashed fish tank with a dead goldfish, ravens pick through detritus in an enclosed space with a low ceiling. A tablecloth – once white, now stained – is spread over a long empty table. Televisions stand side by side in tiny private cubicles, a curtain partially covering them. The dialling wheel of a retrograde telephone is padlocked from use. It’s the day before the opening of the Chinese photographer’s Slumber Song at the Ben Brown Fine Arts in Mayfair. We’re minutes away from Oxford Street, and Chen could easily be mistaken for just another student or tourist. But the slight 34-year-old in trainers and a denim jacket is fast-becoming one of China’s most reputable modern artists, with solo exhibitions in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Munich, Turin, Seville, Basel and now London. “Do you feel nervous?” I asked him. “No,” he said immediately. “Not nervous at all.“ Highly conceptual …

2015-04-17T13:27:19+00:00

Tatiana Gulenkina – Things Merging and Falling Apart

“I first began experimenting with cameraless techniques in a colour darkroom in 2010,” says Russian photographer Tatiana Gulenkina, who is based in Washington DC. “I originally thought it would be a fun side project but I ended up falling in love with the process. There is something magical about working with your hands.” In Things Merging and Falling Apart, Gulenkina, who last year was shortlisted for Photo Boite’s 30 Under 30 Women Photographers competition, creates photograms, but instead of placing objects directly onto a light-sensitive surface, she suspends them above it, submerges them in water or oil, or moves them around during the exposure. “In the past, I used anything from plants and live organisms to springs, ribbons and cardboard cutouts,” she explains. “I’m not trying to portrait a particular object, and I’m obviously not the first one to come up with this concept.” In one image, Gulenkina placed a flower in a small tank of water on top of light-sensitive paper, for example, letting the stem unravel. “You can sort of see a bud …

2015-04-17T13:30:21+00:00

3055 - Out My Window, Global Skype, Amsterdam, 2014

Gail Albert Halaban – Out My Window

It started with a stark reality. “My five-year-old son Jonah was in the emergency room for a long-term heart condition which would require surgery,” says photographer Gail Albert Halaban, who was supposed to be in Amsterdam on an assignment, and had to find a way, from the hospital, to continue the project. “I realised all the technology in a hospital is remote. The doctors were monitoring my son’s heart from a different floor. They could look inside his body without being near him. I realised I could look at the world in the same way.” Gail Albert Halaban has made a career taking pictures of, and through, stranger’s windows. The subjects seem to be unaware of the camera as they go about their private, domestic lives. “At first I know it sounds kind of creepy,” Albert Halaban says. “Many people may even think it’s illegal. But I’m a friendly window-watcher.” Looking in such a way at the lives of others should feel voyeuristic; yet these are warm, empathetic images. They’re staged, the photographs taken with the consent of the subjects, yet they remain deeply, nakedly domestic; a …

2015-04-17T18:42:55+00:00

Harley Weir – fashion’s hottest property

“I discovered Harley on a blog shortly after she’d left university,” says Chris McGuigan, who founded photography agency Mini Title three years ago. “She hadn’t been commissioned much and her portfolio was still quite raw, but I could tell she’d be a star.” He’s talking about 26-year-old Harley Weir, one of the agency’s earliest signings and now fashion photography’s hottest new talent. Weir graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2010 but really broke through in 2014, with back-to-back commissions from big names such as AnOther, i-D, Pop, Arena Homme+, Dazed & Confused, Bottega Veneta, Armani and Maison Martin Margiela. She’s been working so hard, in fact, she’s thinking about taking time out to “get back to what I first fell in love with”. “It can be difficult to keep sight of yourself when so many other people come in to play on commercial jobs,” she says. London-born Weir studied Fine Art and taught herself photography, using Flickr to showcase her work and initially dipping her toe into music photography before the fashion world came calling. …

2015-04-17T18:43:34+00:00

Olga Matveeva – Feud

“Our relationship was strong, sophisticated,” says the Russian photographer Olga Matveeva. She had just graduated from Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography when, together with her boyfriend, they decided to move from Moscow to Crimea, for the winter at least, “and probably for longer”.  They were sharing a home, deeply in love. “But suddenly, something changed in the air,” she tells BJP from Moscow. “Everything became serious, frightening. Everyone stopped trusting each other.” The protests began in Kiev’s Maidan Square. Then, with a slow inevitability, Ukraine fell into war with its old master. Matveeva and her boyfriend found themselves sitting on the sofa, watching TV, comparing the news coverage of Putin’s coded invasion of Ukraine and the eventual annexation of Crimea. It was, says Matveeva, “a strange kind of entertainment”. As they flicked from Ukrainian to Russian to European TV channels, she started to come to terms with her situation. “I realised we were not a couple anymore, because we were not willing to give support to each other,” she says of her lover. So began Feud, a photography project …

2015-04-17T18:44:18+00:00

Paul Kooiker – Nude Animal Cigar

BJP

Paul Kooiker’s latest project, Nude Animal Cigar, is a wild array of variations on the three themes revealed in the title. It’s as if the weirdest and most beautiful nudes, mournful animals and mysterious still lifes built from cigar butts have been picked out from photography’s 176-year history – but although the images look old-fashioned, they have all been made within the past five years by this contemporary Dutch artist. Applying digital sepia filters to all the images, he lends the series a vintage and melancholy feel, and by virtue of the sepia treatment knits this motley trio of themes together. “My work is successful if it is about looking, and about photography,” says Kooiker in his studio, located in a quiet street on the southern periphery of downtown Amsterdam. “Ultimately, my work is about looking, and looking is the ultimate act of voyeurism. “It makes the work accessible, as everybody is able to recognise himself in this act,” he says. “It also leaves the viewer confused. What I want to achieve is to make …

2015-04-17T13:46:51+00:00

Gasometer, Aston, Birmingham, Great Britain, 2008

Hilla Becher at the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend

One of the dominant influences in contemporary European photography is wheeled into the restaurant at the NRW Forum, a grand art gallery a stone’s throw from the Rhine. It’s the height of the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend, and people of all ages are passing through the galleries on either side of us. Many of them won’t realise it, but most of the photography here is deeply indebted to this slight and unassuming woman, born in East Germany before the war, and now happily discoursing over pasta and wine in the café. She has now been without Bernd, her husband, for more than seven years, after he died from complications during heart surgery. That straight bob of blonde hair is greying. She is now 81, and sits slightly stooped in her wheelchair. You have to strain to hear what she says, yet she recounts her life with a remarkable wit and poise. Some people start to switch off at this age; Hilla Becher, it seems, could not be more connected to her surroundings. She met her husband in …

2015-04-21T18:29:45+00:00

Werner Amann – Surf Fiction

Surf Fiction is a visual assault, a larger-than-life collision of text and images inspired by comic book culture. Shot during several trips to Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, it’s a melting pot of video stills, close-up portraits, street photography and apparently staged scenes, which German photographer Werner Amann published with White Press Books late last year; featuring larger-than-life characters and fast-paced editing, it convincingly blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. “The initial idea was to relate photography not only to its history but to other media – TV, film, video, surveillance footage, comic-book culture, typography, and conceptual art – but to keep the heart of the project in the realm of classic photography,” explains the 45 year old. “One theme is how media culture relates to our present social reality. How can we re-appropriate the world – not only the world of images, but the world itself, for ourselves?” The ‘surf’ of the title is a play on words, referencing both surfing the net and, metaphorically, the mediation of everyday life, “like zapping through …

2015-04-17T13:52:19+00:00

April2015

BJP #7834: Driven to Abstraction

Analogue photography is undergoing a massive resurgence right now, and the more obscure the process the better, reports Diane Smyth in the lead article for our April issue, which is devoted to process, experiment and abstraction. In London alone, there are two shows (at Tate Britain and James Hyman Gallery) devoted to salt prints made at the very dawn of the medium, and another, Revelations. Experiments in Photography at Media Space, considers early scientific imaging and its influence on contemporary artists. We talk to the curators behind Revelations, and we visit Timothy Prus of Archive of Modern Conflict to hear the thinking behind The Whale’s Eyelash, his ‘re-enactment’ of 19th century microscope slides as a ‘five-act play’ in photobook form. But it’s not just that early photographic practices are being reappraised; as the Media Space show illustrates, contemporary artists are also turning to analogue processes, and many take inspiration from the experiments and investigations conducted by photographers of their grandparents and great-grandparents generation. Smyth investigates this shift towards abstraction, talking to gallery owners, curators and …

2015-05-28T15:56:10+00:00

Images from Dominic Hawgood's series Under the Influence, which has won the BJP's International Photography Award series category. Images © Dominic Hawgood.

VIDEO: Dominic Hawgood – International Photography Award Winner

“Staging is not the same as faking.” That phrase, from photography academic David Campbell, was the bedrock for Dominic Hawgood’s Under the Influence, a highly conceptualised look at faith and meaning in a world of images. The series scooped the series category of BJP’s International Photography Award, and Campbell’s phrase is now helping shape the 27-year-old’s approach to the exhibition he won, which opened today at London’s TJ Boulting Gallery. The series examines human behaviour in contemporary African churches in London, “and the merchandising of these modern rituals”; inspired to start it after witnessing an exorcism first-hand, he also explores “the theatrical practice of deliverance”. These techniques suggest a certain cynicism about religion but Hawgood says that wasn’t his intention. He’s simply considering whether we can experience something authentic in a knowingly constructed environment – or via carefully crafted imagery. “Ideas are formed through the imagery presented to us, removing us from actual life experiences, adding another layer of distance that evokes a desire to experience the real, close up,” he wrote in The Therapeutic …

2015-04-23T18:14:11+00:00

BJP Staff