Sohn Fine Art opens a camera-less photography exhibition

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Sohn Fine Art opens a camera-less photography exhibition
Garry Fabian Miller, The Middle Place, Golden, 2012. Water, light, Lambda c-print from dye-destruction print, 49.5 x 70 inches.

LENOX, MASS.- Sohn Fine Art is presenting Light + Dark, a camera-less photography exhibition featuring work by Garry Fabian Miller and Chuck Kelton. The exhibition is on view at Sohn Fine Art (69 Church Street, Lenox MA) June 15 – September 2. One might ask, ‘how do you make a photograph without a camera?’ The essence of photography lies in its seemingly magical ability to fix shadow or color onto light sensitive surfaces through exposure to light. Both artists create images directly on photographic papers, which use silver salts that darken when exposed. By filtering or blocking light, or by chemically treating its surface, the paper is transformed into an image. By removing the camera, these artists get closer to the source of what they are interested in: light, time, traces, signs and visions – things which have spiritual and metaphysical rather than simply physical qualities. Across languages and cultures, the earliest color categories are believed to have been those of light and dark.

Garry Fabian Miller is one of the most progressive artists in fine art photography today. Born in Bristol, England, in1957, he has made exclusively 'camera-less' photographs since the mid-1980s. He experiments with the nature and possibilities of light as both medium and subject. Since 1992 he has explored a more abstract form of picture-making by passing light through coloured glass, liquid and cut paper forms that record directly onto photographic paper. In parallel, he has explored the ideas of exposure, the quantities of light that are required to make things visible, or invisible, in the making of a picture. In sharp contrast to the photographic norm of exposures that last for a fragment of a second, Miller’s work tends towards long exposures lasting anywhere between one and fifteen hours. These unusual methods create alternative, luminous realities that shift from pure abstraction to imagined landscapes of the mind. Miller states, “The pictures I make are of something as yet unseen, which may only exist on the paper surface, or subsequently may be found in the world. I am seeking a state of mind which lifts the spirit, gives strength and a moment of clarity.” The New Yorker stated, “This British photographer makes austerely beautiful, high-impact color work without the use of a camera. If the squares-within-squares and other minimalist geometric images in his show seem directly inspired by Josef Albers’s “Homage to the Square” paintings, they also have the dematerialized, vaguely spiritual glow of James Turrell’s light pieces.”

Miller is represented in numerous private and public collections worldwide. In October 2010, he was featured as one of the five best camera-less photographers in the world in the exhibition Shadow Catchers, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Victoria & Albert Museum have the largest public collection of the artist’s work having collected pieces for over 25 years, the most recent acquisition the 2006 Year One cabinet which is on permanent display within the Museums Print Room.

Chuck Kelton makes chemograms and photograms using photosensitive papers and darkroom chemicals (fresh and expired) to transform light into abstract landscapes. Though abstract, Kelton’s works are representative, often simulating seascapes or other-worldly environments. At the same time, they are also evocative of other medias such as watercolor or oil paintings, charcoal drawings or pastels. However no such actual landscape or outside medias exist in the creation of his work, as his practice foregoes cameras, lenses and negatives. A photogram is the result of exposing photographic paper to light—writing with light. Whereas the image in a chemogram is the outcome of exposing photographic paper to developer and fixer—painting with chemistry. Kelton's gold chloride and selenium toned chemograms coax a surprising palette of fiery oranges and lush violets from gelatin silver paper. In many of the works on view Kelton combines chemogram and photogram techniques; the shift marked with a cracked, folded horizon line separating swirling tones from smooth, matte black. Each work is entirely unique. In a quote by Leah Ollman from the LA Times, “Landscape imagery always registers internal as much as external phenomena, and Kelton makes sure that we know he is not just transcribing nature by titling most of the images "A View, Not From a Window." These expansive vistas originate in the darkrooms of the studio and the self.”

Kelton’s work stems from a 35-year career as a master black and white printer for some of the most important photographers in history – Ansel Adams, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Steven Meisel and Mary Ellen Mark, to name a few. When most of photography went digital, Kelton saw it as an opportunity to spend more time on his personal work, and his career has flourished. He has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Bibliothéque nationale de France; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; International Center of Photography, New York; and New York Public Library.

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