Thursday, 21 October 2010

Christopher Williams

The work of conceptual artist/photographer Christopher Williams is a very strange beast indeed. He uses photography, but the photographs themselves are not the interesting thing – in fact they are almost blandness personified; it’s the idea, and what is behind the concept of the image that makes them really interesting. One glimpse at the bulk of the titles alone gives you an indication! Williams elevates a seemingly simple image to something far more loaded and complex, as he lists every single specific detail of the object in the image (to an almost absurd extent in the case of the Renault car). In fact, he doesn’t even take many of these photographs either, instead commissioning commercial photo studios – whose names feature as part of the title – to execute his ideas. He often chooses clichéd, cheesy subjects – a grinning woman wrapped in a towel, a product shot of a chocolate bar – to be photographed, but adds a level of complication which makes the resulting image slightly ‘off’. Whether its the rictus of a smile held too long, or a cutaway model of a camera – a camera that could never actually take a photograph - or leaving the colour reference card in the frame next to the subject, the result is always intriguing and disturbing.

Williams is also infamous for showing the same photographs again and again at different exhibitions over the years. He tweaks and tailors the display to suit each gallery or museum, and occasionally adds new pieces, but there is invariably much repetition.

By subverting these normal, accepted practices, which seem an intrinsic part of modern photography (particularly within an art-based context) Williams has continuously questioned the very concept of what can constitute a photograph, and how much the actual visual content of that photograph matters.

Body Type & Seating: 4-dr sedan - 4 to 5 persons. Engine Type: 14/52 Weight: 1397 lbs. Price: $1495,00 USD (original)
CHASSIS DATA: Wheelbase: 89 in. Overall length: 155 in. Height: 57 in. Width: 60 in. Front thread: 49 in. Rear thread: 48 in. Standard Tires: 5.50x15
PRODUCTION DATA: Sales: 18,432 sold in U.S. in 1964 (all types). Manufacturer: Regie Nationale des Usines Renault, Billancourt, France. Distributor: Renault Inc., New York, NY., U.S.A.
Serial number: R-10950059799
Engine Number: Type 670-05 # 191563
California License Plate number: UOU 087
Vehicle ID Number: 0059799
(For R.R.V.)
Los Angeles, California
January 15, 2000

Cutaway model Nikon Em. Shutter: Electronically governed Seiko metal blade shutter, vertical travel with speeds from 1/1000 to 1 second, with a manual speed of 1/90th. Meter: Center-weighted Silicon Photo Diode, ASA 25-1600, EV 2-18 [with ASA film and 1.8 lens]. Aperture Priority automatic exposure. Lens Mount: Nikon F mount, Al coupling [and later] only. Flash: Synchronization at 1/90 via hot shoe. Flash automation with Nikon SB-E or SB-10 flash units. Focusing: K type focusing screen, not user interchangeable, with 3mm diagonal split image rangefinder. Batteries: Two PX-76 or equivalent. Dimensions: 5.3" x 3.38" x 2.13" [135mm x 86mm x 54mm], 16.2 oz [460g]. Fotostudio Axel Gnad, Düsseldorf October 17, 2008 [b&w]

Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide, © 1968 Eastman Kodak Company, 1968. (Miko smiling), Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2005

Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide, © 1968 Eastman Kodak Company, 1968. (Miko laughing), Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2005

Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide, © 1968 Eastman Kodak Company, 1968. (Corn) Douglas M. Parker Studio, Glendale, California, April 17, 2003

Tokuyo Yamada
Hair designer
Shinbiyo Shuppan Co., Ltd.
Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo
April 14, 1993
(Nr. 1), 1993

FUJI Color
Printed on: Fujicolor Professional Crystal Archive RA-4 Color Paper Type C C-print
Negative film: FUJI NPL 160T Process C-41 Glossy Process RA-4 March 10, 200

[title TBA]

College student
Shinbiyo Shuppan Co., Ltd.
Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo
April 14, 1993 (#2)

Ritter Sport Von oben nach unten / from top to the bottom 100 g Tafeln / 100 g Bars Offizieller Produktname / Official Product Name / EAN Code Bar / UPC Code for Case / Bars per Case Voll Nuss / Whole Hazelnuts / 4000417019004 / 050255013005 / 10 Joghurt / Yogurt / 40004170270 09 / 050255027000 / 12 Voll Endnuss / 4000417262202 / ... / 10 Weisse Voll Nuss / White Whole Hazelnuts / 4000417013002 / 050255013003 / 10 Marzipan / Marzipan / 400041725005 / 050255025006 / 12 Cappuccino / Cappuccino / 40004172300 03 / 0550255230042 / 12 Fotostudio Axel Gnad, Düsseldorf, October 24th, 2008 [No. 1]

Linhof Technika V fabricated in Munich, Germany. Salon Studio Stand fabricated in Florence, Italy. Dual cable release. Prontor shutter. Symar-s lens 150mmm/f 5.6 Schneider kreuznach. Sinar fresnel lens placed with black tape on the ground glass. Dirk Sharper Studio, Berlin, June 20, 2007


Asbolus verrucosus
Death Feigning Beetle
Silverlake, California
October 1, 1996 (#1)

Atsue Sasaki Graphic designer Shinbiyo Shuppan Co., Ltd. Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo April 14, 1993 (Nr. 1, 2, 3, 4)

One of 406 Ceiling Panels (23 3/4 x 23 3/4 inches each) Covered on the back with striped paper (green and white) Each Stripe is 8.7 cm. From “Frost and Defrost: A Work In Situ By Daniel Buren” Otis Art Institute Gallery, 2401 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California January 28 – March 4, 1979 Hal Glicksman, Gallery Director; Christopher D’arcangelo, Assistant to Daniel Buren Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles, California May 4, 2006

Polaroid 660 [promotional non functional] with completely transparent plastic housing. Produced for promotional use for display and demonstration purposes. Lens: 116mm f/11, single-element plastic Automatic focus; uses Polaroid Sonar AF system. Minimum focus: 3ft. Electronic shutter: range 1/4-1/200 sec. programmed automatic exposure system; built-in electronic flash, with automatic flash, exposure for all pictures. Camera was introduced 1981 with an original product price of $95.00 and worked with the Polaroid 600 Film family which all have the following characteristics in common: ASA 600 film speed, self-developing, packaged 10 prints to a pack including a self-contained battery to power camera. Actual image area: 3 1/8" x 3 1/8" [7.9 x 7.9] Fotostudio Axel Gnad, Düsseldorf February 09, 2009

Mustafa Kinte (Gambia) Shirt: Van Laak Shirt Kent 64 41061 Mönchengladbach, Germany Dirk Sharper Studio, Berlin, July 20th, 2007

All images © Christopher Williams

Friday, 15 October 2010

Frank Haines

Loaded with esoteric symbolism, objects of ritual and occult references, Frank Haines' work spans many different disciplines, most easily captured under the catch-all term performance artist. Shown here, predominantly, are photographs which are the result and record of one of his most recent performances, and which were one of the standout exhibits at this year's Frieze art fair. Haines is a prolific creator, a man whose life seems consumed and driven by the urge to channel his vast knowledge of the arcane, pagan and ceremonial into one form of art of another. These photographs, sickly in their acid colours and leaping out at the viewer, show bizarre objects and constructions, all of which make up parts of Haines' bizarre world. Think Joseph Beuys via Kenneth Anger with a punk sensibility and a splash of SUN O))) and you're getting close.

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled acrylic and graphite painting, 2009

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled acrylic and graphite painting, 2009

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled acrylic painting, 2010

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled photograph, 2010

Untitled mixed media, 2009

All image © Frank Haines/Lisa Cooley Gallery

Monday, 11 October 2010

Hugh Holland

For a few glorious years in the 1970s, before egos exploded and commercialism cashed in on the scene, skateboarding was an unaffected underground calling - a way of life for the gilded and lost youth of the West Coast, who lived to skate and rode till they dropped. The history of the scene has been well-documented now, from the Dogtown story to Stoked on down, and there are websites far more clued-in to the skate scene than FOV where every angle of skate lore is disseminated in detail.
With no previous connection to the scene, and no real precedent or parameters, photographer Hugh Holland documented this emerging movement in Los Angeles after chancing upon some young kids hurling themselves down the drainage ditches in West Hollywood one evening in 1975. Self-taught and eager to shoot more than just casual snapshots, Holland knew he had stumbled across something very special. His subsequent series of photos, suffused with that inimitable golden warmth of California sunshine, are guileless, intimate, poignant and poetic. And probably never bettered. The skaters seem to accept Holland entirely, and the resulting shots defined the aesthetic of skate photography for the next decade. Beyond the dynamic wide-angle shots where Holland is inside the pools or going down the banks with these fearless young tornadoes, the more intimate shots of them simply hanging out or taking a break have a real power and innocence to them. 'The South Bay Gang, 1975' is as timeless a photograph as you're ever likely to see capturing the blissful optimism of American youth.
The photographs are a fascinating document of a singular moment in skate culture which was over all too soon; as increased commercial involvement polarised those involved in the scene from 1978 onwards, and its popularity spread nationwide, Holland felt the magic and innocence fall away, and the series came to an end.

Canyon Sunset Ride, Hollywood Hills, 1975

Schoolyard Drop, 1976

Todd Foot, Ensenda, 1977

Stacey Peralta, 1977

Solo, Kenter Canyon Elementary, 1976

Sidewalk Surfer, Huntington Beach, 1976

Reach Out, 1976

Skater School, Orange County, 1977

Laid Out At Kenter, 1976

Jeff Jones, 1976

Skate Shooter, Kenter, 1976

Jeff Jones Hangs Ten, Kenter Elementary, 1976

Gilded Skater, San Diego, 1975

Todd's Guitar, 1975

Arthur Lake, Kenter Canyon Elemantary, 1976

Number 79, Long Beach, 1975

The South Bay Gang, 1975

Last Light At Kenter Canyon, 1975

All images © Hugh Holland

Monday, 4 October 2010

Hiroshi Yoshida

One of the great Japanese woodblock artists, Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) was especially noted for his exquisitely detailed, evocative prints of landscapes around the world. His work is beautiful, subtle and often atmospheric, displaying a real mastery of his technique, which allowed him to capture the subtleties of light and form. Yoshida often reused the same woodblocks, varying the colours and saturation to suggest alternate moods of the same scene – a different time of day, or even different weather conditions.

Initially trained as a painter (of some renown), Yoshida began working with woodblocks in the early 1920s, and after a meeting with the owner of the Watanabe Print Store in Tokyo he had his first series of prints published. The woodblock technique is notoriously time-consuming and difficult, but Yoshida seemed able to capture the most delicate graduations of colour and the tiniest details in a temple façade or mountain face.

Yoshida was a keen traveller and visited numerous countries from the early 1900s onwards - his cosmopolitan attitude is reflected in the landscapes and studies he created in countries like India and America. The traditional Japanese techniques in his work applied to a changing foreign world at the beginning of the 20th Century make for some fascinating, unexpected images, which sit comfortably alongside his more elegiac landscapes. Whilst the world has changed almost immeasurably in the 50 or so years since Yoshida died, when viewed today, well-kept examples of his woodblocks still have a real vibrancy and warmth to them.

Yoshida died in 1950 but his two sons Toshi and Hodaka both became respected woodblock artists in their own right, carrying on the family tradtion. In fact, since the mid-1800s the same Yoshida family - Hiroshi's forebears - has produced eight artists of serious renown – a veritable woodblock dynasty.

Boat in dry dock, Kinoe

Grand Canyon (Bright Variant), 1925

The Cherry Tree In Kawagoe, 1935

Obatan Parrot II, 1926

Yarigate, date unknown

Yomei Gate, 1937

Taj Mahal, 1931

Taj Mahal, Night, 1931

Snake Charmers, 1932

Sketch of a Tiger, 1926

Kinkaku, 1933

Kameido Bridge, 1927

Iris Garden In Horikiri, 1928

Obatan Parrot, 1926

Icho In Autumn, 1926

Udaipur 1931

Early Morning, Fujiyama, 1928

Elephant, 1931

Eboshidake, 1926

Cryptomeria Avenue, 1937

Climbing Snow Valley, 1926

Cave Temple In Ellora, 1932

Breithorn, date unknown

Avenue Of Cherry Trees, 1935

Konoshima, 1935

All images © Estate of Hiroshi Yoshida