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Exhibition at ClampArt includes a selection of Brian Buckley's new wet photograms
Brian Buckley, “Ugolino and his sons 01-01-20,” 2020; Wet photogram with ferric ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide, and suspended watercolor pigment (Unique); 30 x 22 inches. © Brian Buckley.

NEW YORK, NY.- ClampArt is presenting Brian Buckley’s second solo show with the gallery. Titled “Uncertainty,” the exhibition includes a selection of the artist’s new wet photograms.

Artists thrive in the state of uncertainty. It is the space in which new work is often produced—a realm where ideas are explored and solutions are sometimes found. Brian Buckley actively seeks out uncertainty, from which he draws creative inspiration. It defines the darkroom techniques he employs and helps explain the purpose of his artistic practice.

Buckley began his newest body of work in early 2020, purposely exploring the concept of uncertainty—especially in relation to his own life and abrupt changes brought on by the pandemic. Reflecting specifically on personal relationships, issues of intimacy, and more widely on his own notions of the nature of beauty, Buckley examined both the joy and pain of love, hoping to confront losses experienced over the course of his life. As an artist, he wished to prompt viewers of his work to think about their own experiences of uncertainty and to identify how it might serve as a tool for productive change.

Mixing solutions of light-sensitive chemicals with water-based paints, Buckley applies these hand-blended solutions in multiple coats to sheets of watercolor paper. He then places organic and non-organic objects on or near the prepared paper before exposing them to light. The ghost-like photograms that result record the contours and textures of the subjects Buckley selects, and each print is entirely unique.

Buckley’s practice is reminiscent of Gyotaku—a traditional Japanese practice of “printing fish” going back to the mid-1800s. From the word gyo meaning “fish” and taku meaning “stone impression,” Gyotaku is a form of nature painting used by fishermen to record their catches, which is now an art form of its own, which Buckley has chosen to reinterpret.

With a long passion for mythology, inspired by his father’s research as a history professor, Buckley's titles for the artworks in the new series derive from often tragic Greek stories of Aphrodite, Athena, Thera, and Ugolino and his sons.

Buckley states: “My work is about finding success while using materials and a process where the final results are uncertain. The mythology is an attempt to reference universal understanding. Standing with the process, rather than controlling it, the work is open to any interpretation. It asks for openness to the possibilities these images generate.”

Brian Buckley’s work has always centered on analog photographic techniques, celebrating the orchestration of light, chemistry, and papers, harmonizing process and image. After an eye-opening photography course in college, Buckley quickly threw himself headlong into the darkroom. His first job was for renowned paparazzo photographer Ron Gallella, printing older work for publication. Then, while attending Parsons School of Design on a foundation scholarship, the artist began working in commercial labs in New York City. At Ken Taranto Photo Lab, Buckley worked under master printer Ira Mandelbaum. He then was employed by photographer Shelia Metzner, managing cross-processed large format Polaroid film. After later spending a few years as the overnight shift printer for Color Edge in Chelsea, Buckley finally ended up processing work and problem solving darkroom challenges for artist Adam Fuss. Working with Fuss solidified his commitment to the powerful language of analog photographic processes.

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