Elemental: John Chiara, Binh Danh, Chris McCaw, Meghann Riepenhoff at Haines Gallery opens today
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Elemental: John Chiara, Binh Danh, Chris McCaw, Meghann Riepenhoff at Haines Gallery opens today
Binh Danh, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, 2012. Unique Daguerreotype 8 x 15 inches. Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Join us Friday, April 7, 5pm - 7pm for the opening reception of Elemental at Haines Gallery, a group exhibition featuring new and recent works by John Chiara, Binh Danh, Chris McCaw and Meghann Riepenhoff. Each of these West Coast photographers is known for their analog processes that collaborate with the natural world and explore the medium’s fundamental materials of chemistry and light. Some works are abstract and painterly impressions of the landscape; others ask us to reconsider our relationship to and memory of well-known sites and monuments. Throughout, their innovative approaches to landscape and photography invite us to experience the world anew.

John Chiara prints directly onto photographic paper with his hand-built, large-format cameras, resulting in landscapes that retain the visible vestiges of their creation: uneven hand-cut edges, tape marks, light leaks, subtle chemical streaking. Elemental includes images of San Francisco and evocative, black-and-white scenes of the Swiss Alps, the latter created during an extended artist residency in 2020.

Binh Danh’s contemporary daguerreotypes of the US National Parks extend the pursuit of pioneering photographers such as Ansel Adams and Carleton Watkins, while expanding our experience of these sites through his distinct perspective as a Vietnamese American. Idyllic landscapes are layered with timely questions of access and belonging, exclusion and displacement, and who is allowed to be behind the camera.

Chris McCaw's elegantly composed landscapes result from a careful choreography between artist and nature. The powerful lenses within his hand-built cameras act as magnifying glasses, burning the sun’s path across light-sensitive paper. The work disrupts the idea that a photograph is simply a representation of reality, instead becoming a physical record of planetary movement and the passage of time.

Meghann Riepenhoff places paper coated in homemade emulsion directly within the landscape, inviting the elements to physically inscribe themselves onto her materials. In the vivid blue cyanotypes from her Ice series, created in freezing bodies of water, ice formations appear as crystalline shards and feathery blooms across the prints. Each piece is a wholly unique record of time and place.

Elemental is on view through May 27, 2023.

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