Upon entering the exhibition of forty of Jeff Walls’ photographs, the first image to capture my attention is the “no photography” sign, flush left of the entrance. That setting the tone, I enter.
Amidst the large format lightbox images, I stroll and wonder where they were taken, are they posed or accidental surprises? The first stand-out image for me is “Mimic”. I find the image so wry but not necessarily angry. The photo seems to have a sense of humor, a breath of air exhisting and floating around the figures, taking away from any idea of reportage and lending itself to a compositional study.
“A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)”, 1993
The second photograph to capture my attention is shown above. I loved the movement flowing, and pushed by the wind forcefully through the frame of the photograph. I had a memory of seeing the Hokusai image before and love when I can recognize other artists/photographers pulling and re-translating the past using contemporary pieces to form the puzzle. (Something that has been going on for years and in every genre) Most of the photographs in the exhibition are shown via lightbox format. I think that this mode really captures the presence and imagination of each photograph. Photos printed on high format ink jet, like “Spring Snow” didn’t stand up to the glowing lightboxes. I think that this proves how technology can, besides being an asset to the actual process of making work, also lends itself to the ideal exhibition presentation.
(Followed by the image from which the photo was born by Japanese artist Hokusai.)
From the Jeff Wall exhibit I wondered down the escalator of the 6th floor to Paintings & Sculpture 1 where I found myself swimming in a sea of Giorgio de Chirico and Picasso. I was attracted to the pinks of Bonnard and Vuillard. Standing in front of Kandinsky’s “Four panels for Edward R. Campell” I overwhelming found myself becoming verklempt. My pace slowed, my breath slowed, and I remembered why art is what helps me feel alive.