The 5th edition of PhotoLondon at Somerset House with 24 countries, 114 galleries, record sales and over 42.000 visitors in four days.
"Landscape-dance, naked bodies, cut-out paper forms and cut-out landscapes, black bodies and segregated black citizens, 18th-century rebels and 80s red-head punks"
That's the palette of PhotoLondon 2019.
Interviews and featured galleries, artists by Zoltan Alexander
Michael Benson, Fariba Farshad, Giada Vaghi and Philippe Garner of PhotoLondon, Tristan Lund of PhotoLondon Discovery section, Edouard Taufenbach at Binom Gallery (Paris), Rad Husak at Dellasposa Gallery (London), Hannah Hughes at Sid Motion Gallery (London), Dafna Talmor at TOBE Gallery (Budapest), Philip Pocock at INDA Gallery (Budapest), Sacha Goldberger and Denis Rouvre at Project 2.0 Gallery (The Hague) and David Goldblatt at Goodman Gallery (Cape Town and Johannesburg)
PhotoLondon 2019 / © video by Zoltan Alexander ZOLTAN+MEDIA
The much acclaimed 5th edition of PhotoLondon at Somerset House closed just a few days ago with record sales and robust numbers of over 42.000 visitors in four days. 24 countries and 114 galleries participated, many of them for the first time.
The founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad with Giada Vaghi, Head of VIP and Philippe Garner, Chairman of the PhotoLondon Curatorial Committee shared the same opinion:
“Despite the toxic shadow of Brexit, we have emerged stronger than ever. Our team have travelled thousands of miles and worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. Given the context, this is an extraordinary achievement.”
On the theme of "Women in Photography" the Pavilion Commission demonstrated the Fair's deep commitment to supporting women photographers. Good news: 40% of the exhibitors and artists were women.
Entering Somerset House through the courtyard Mary McCartney's large-scale B/W photographs were displayed on the exterior wall of the pavilion. Beside Rachel Louise Brown and Susan Meiselas, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize winner, Mary McCartney was one of the three outstanding female artists the Commission featured at PhotoLondon.
As part of the Public Programme Gavin Turk’s project “Portrait of an Egg” was highlighted to question the role of photography and social media in experiencing art. A giant egg was installed on the terrace of the Embankment inviting visitors to take photographs with and of the work, and enter them into a photographic competition on Instagram. Hundreds of photographs were submitted by the public and projected onto the walls of the Great Arch Hall at Somerset House as part of the installation.
Tristan Lund, curator of the Discovery section said:
"This has been the most critically and commercially successful edition of the Discovery section thanks to the daring curation of all 25 galleries including Fernando Bayona at Almanaque Fotográfica (Mexico City), Edouard Taufenbach at Galerie Binome (Paris), Rad Husak at Dellasposa (London), Klea McKenna at Euqinom Gallery (San Francisco), Benjamin Deroche at H Gallery (Paris), Hannah Hughes, Matthew Barnes, Abigail Hunt and Dafna Talmor at Sid Motion Gallery (London) and Marco Maria Zanin at Spazio Nuovo (Rome)."
This year’s PhotoLondon was indeed a superb edition and London has never felt so creative and fluid. I was particularly excited that buyers broke through traditional paths, many of them were young and first-time buyers mixed with major institutional collectors purchasing artworks from Discovery.
Well-before I decided on the core line of this article, I picked some images during the private view and discovered that all of those photographs came from first-time exhibitors and artists. It did not take long to change the format of the article and instead of a short review, I decided to base my words on personal stories, anecdotes and a series of interviews, to dedicate this feature to them, encouraging their work and tireless efforts to participate with PhotoLondon for the first time.
So, let's meet these artists and galleries ...
GALERIE BINOM / Paris / EDUARD TAUFENBACH
At the Discovery section, the Paris based gallery presented a large selection of Edouard Taufenbach’s striking, erotic B/W photographic images. It was his debut in London, however, last year we have already come across with his work in the Curiosa section at ParisPhoto.
In the series of "Spéculaire", Taufenbach cuts his photos into thin slices and meticulously reassembles them.
Z+ "When I look at your photographs it is like looking at an entire movie in a single frame."
ET “Thank you. In fact, all my life is about cutting and collaging. For my series "Spéculaire" I have collaborated with French film director Sébastien Lifshitz who had a great collection of personal and intimate photos and his homo-erotic, gender issues intrigued me. The original images were often very suggestive, sometimes hard-core and erotic, but the way I reassembled them made the images indirect. My work often questions the boundaries of memory and fiction.”
Valérie Cazin of Binom Gallery carefully listens and takes my microphone for a word:
VC "It’s a great pleasure to be in London, it is our first time. Here, at the Discovery section I found great coherence between the galleries and artists, thanks to the refined curating of Tristan Lund. I have a lot of English collectors visiting us at ParisPhoto, and I always look forward to seeing them in Paris but it gives me a particular pleasure to receive them here in London.
There is also a group show at the moment at the Camberwell College of Arts with Edouard Taufenbach's photographs in the frame of "Moving the Image", which states that the photographic image is not at all static, and the contemporary conditions of photography might be best understood through an expanded conception of its actions, gestures and performativities. So we decided to show some of Edouard's work, which seemed to be the perfect link with PhotoLondon."
VC "It is almost three years that we represent him. His first project was "Cinéma: Histoires Domestiques" at Approche independent art fair and Art Paris with total success and that gave Eduard some free time to prepare his next project "Spéculaire". It took a year of research and painstaking preparation to put everything together.
I experiment with new exhibitions in my gallery before taking them to such important art fairs such as ParisPhoto. His project was eventually exhibited last year at ParisPhoto in our gallery booth and in Curiosa. We had an immediate and very positive response from the press and art critics, I think we even have yours on our website."
Z+ "Thank you Valérie, “infiniment”, you are a brilliant fast talker, 6minutes 30seconds without running out of breath, that’s quite a record and a great presentation."
Our time is almost up but Eduard takes me for a quick tour in the gallery to show me two of his favorites. He stops in front of a B/W image, a woman sitting in a garden, her face is sliced by other slices of photographic images of trees and nature, we enter her mind, but also stay aside as a quiet observer, like in a Hitchcockian scene.
On another picture "Etienne danse avec Eadweard" two men are dancing on the beach, there is this magic sequence of movements and intimacy, one of the bodies superimposes on the other and slide-by-slide braids his legs with the others in a slow landscape-dance."
DELLASPOSA / London / RAD HUSAK
Next to Binom Gallery at the Discovery section Dellasposa presented another first-timer, Rad Husak.
London based artist, Rad Husak is an intriguing, process-driven character. Fresh from the Royal College of Art, through intensive research and experimentation, Husak defined his own process, the technique of the pigment transfer mixed with carbon-drawn lines on aluminium, often employing the alternative photographic technique of the cyanotype. His work is sensitive, seductive, multi-layered, highlighting the beauty of the male body. With a series of large prints “Mirrored” he debuted this year's PhotoLondon.
Within his physical and psychological decadent work, Husak brings order into a world that feels chaotic and creates beauty in our vicissitudes of time and history. Blasting through the outer layers of the metal, he reveals his figurative series, where the body is in focus and influenced by the timeless tradition of the Renaissance nude with the ideal of beauty found in sculptures and paintings from ancient Greece and Roman times, combined with a touch of pop culture.
Having long been seduced by the beauty and perfection of his world, Husak walks with me to his pictures presenting his slender, young muses, a model and a dancer in a neo-romantic style.
Whether expressed through figurative or abstract tonal imagery, Husak constructs his series through taking elements from na