[Fall 2017] Whitechapel Gallery, London June 7–September 3, 2017 By John K. Grande [Excerpt] Everything vanishes and yet it all remains, changed somehow, interpreted differently: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. A Handful of Dust is a show that has a mysterious point of departure that is as much about the ambiguities of art in […]
[Spring/Summer 2016] [Excerpt] So pervasive have the interventions become that they challenge the stereotype of nature as an ongoing and seemingly inexhaustible eternal backdrop to all that we do. Our era is all about the intertwining of the human built landscape and the natural world. It is what we now call the Anthropocene, an era […]
November 27, 2017 [originally published in CV93 in Winter 2013] — Toronto, being such an architectural and photographic city, seems the perfect venue for a Berenice Abbott show. In collaboration with the Jeu de Paume in Paris, Toronto’s Ryerson Image Centre mounted a fine, comprehensive survey exhibition of Abbott’s life in photography. Early on, Abbott got to know Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray in Greenwich Village, New York, before heading for Paris to become Man Ray’s apprentice and assistant…
July 6, 2017 [originally published in CV91 in Spring 2012] — The landscape tradition in North American photography extends back into the colonial era. In “Songs of the Future,” photography is an instrument that documents the unfolding of an industrial heritage. Some of the flavour of this show is akin to Gordon Lightfoot’s song Canadian Railway Trilogy, but, sadly, no images of Chinese or Irish workers or of Sir William van Horne figure in it.
June 5, 2017 [originally published in CV90 in Winter 2012] — JR’s photography faces real life. The human faces that engage us in the real environments of the First and Third worlds are an exercise in self-identification within a larger matrix that is a seemingly invisible population of everyday people. Largely unrecognized, these people are off the map when it comes to social, political, or economic rights.
February 2, 2017 [originally published in CV89 in Fall 2011] — Wang Qingsong’s photo scenarios focus on the ambiguities of China’s changing cultural identity and internal clash of ideologies. Pick Up the Pen, Fight to the End (1997) mimics a late Cultural Revolution poster, Take Up the Struggle of Polemics and Struggle to the End (1975), also on view. We see a girl wearing a Young Pioneers red scarf; Mao’s Little Red Book is on the table.
February 21, 2017 [originally published in CV89 in Fall 2011] — “Shadow Catchers” takes off from the tradition of camera-less photography initiated by William Henry Fox-Talbot, whose photogenic drawings, first displayed to the public in 1839, preceded photography with a camera – a “little bit of magic realized,” as he put it. And we sense his influence on photographers who followed, such as Christian Schad, Lucia Moholy, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Man Ray, whose photogenic drawings…
November 22, 2016 [originally published in Spring 2011] — Conceptual art ideas are pervasive in John Baldessari’s art, from his videos, to his photographs, to his hybrid photo-painted works. Presented by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Tate Modern in London, and following on from the Hirshhorn Museum’s “2007 Ways of Seeing” show, “Pure Beauty” puts another feather in John Baldessari’s cap as a West Coast progenitor of all that conceptual art was, is, or can be. His blending of photography, performance, video, and painting treads the edgy border between visual and textual with a natural affinity.
June 2, 2016 [originally published in Fall 2010] — Edward Burtynsky […] has captured iconic images of human intervention in the landscape in works of a scope and scale that evidence how the activities and the layerings of nature and culture change a place. His recent books include China, Quarries, and Oil…
June 16, 2016 [originally published in Fall 2010] — World Press Photo included his [Laurent Guérin] photographs of street children in India in a show held at the Maison de la Culture Frontenac in Montreal in 2004. These photographs – in which all the chaos and beauty of India, from street life to more contemplative imagery, are captured – became the book Hindi Pop.
[Spring 2010] The Rise of Abstraction in Photography Galerie Pangée, Montreal September 15 to October 12, 2009 Culled from a much larger exhibition at Aperture Gallery in New York, curated by Lyle Rexer, author of, among others, How to Look at Outsider Art,1 The Edge of Vision is a very special show that touches on […]
[Spring 2010] by John K. Grande Andréas Gursky’s incredible take on the contemporary has much to do with the ascent of photography in the contemporary art world. And yet Gursky, as much as any photographier, is to be credited for raising that profile, thanks to his monumental photographic images. It is therefore ironic that for […]
[Fall 2009] Robert Polidori’s photographies evoke a sense of tragedy, or of history – but, above all, of place. The analytical quality of his images is combined with the an- cient and contemporary, yet always topi- cal selection of places he works in, which have resulted in numerous popular books, including New Orleans after the […]
[Fall 2009] Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa April 11 to September 13, 2009 Given his avid interest in gardening, west coast photographer Scott McFarland addresses the landscape with his photographs. Is he acutely aware of the history of landscape in art? The thirty-six works on view in this […]
[Summer 2009] Galerie d’art du Centre Culturel Université de Sherbrooke January 12 to February 22, 2009 Previously exhibited at Cirque du Soleil’s TOHU Espace SSQ, Paul-Antoine Pichard’s photographs of people who live amid trash, in the scarred landscapes that they are a part of, reveal scarred, aged, disfigured victims of the conditions imposed on them […]
[Fall 2008] National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa June 27–October 13, 2008 A more timely exhibition of photography there never was. And with a shock-primed title such as Imaging a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate, one is put on edge from the beginning. Although the bias in the photographs is toward documentary and […]
[Spring 2008] Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver October 20, 2007 – January 20, 2008 A landmark showing of the work of Vancouver School photographer Roy Arden should not go unnoticed! In his long career investigating the interrupted zones of society, Arden has chronicled not only a landscape in transition but a social and visual field. Against […]
[Summer 2007] David Maisel’s recent body of works, Black Maps, is composed of five series of aerial photographs, the subject of which is the undoing of the natural world by wide-scale human interventions. The latest of these series, Terminal Mirages – reproduced here – was shot from a helicopter flying above Great Salt Lake in Utah. In an […]
[Fall 2007] Tate Modern, London October 11, 2006 – January 14, 2007 Replicating the real, the Swiss duo of Fischli and Weiss play around with it all like so much spice cake. Since the 1970s, they have collaborated on numerous projects, and they have received their due recognition with this retrospective. Most often they fabricate meanings, or […]
[Winter 2006-2007] Multidisciplinary artist Mike Yuhasz’s Great North Development Group project explores the way we conceive of and relate to land in today’s complex world. Yuhasz’s confected, prearranged, set-up, and situational photographic and informational material carries contradictory and duplicitous messages about the consumer. The project is as much about our potential collective perception, understanding, and […]