|Title||A Shade of Pale||Posted In||Photography, Exhibition||Duration||16 May 2018 to 02 June 2018|
|Venue||The Store X||Opening Hours||DAILY 10:00 - 18:00||Location||
"A Shade of Pale" is an ambitious London exhibition that brings together new photographic work from ten distinct artists. Far from turning it into another group show however, where the selected works are united under a common theme or concept, curator Carrie Scott has chosen instead to create a diverse visual ecosystem of antagonistic yet co-existing aesthetics that vie for viewers' undivided attention.
Presented by The Store X, the sprawling exhibition, which opens today and runs until June 3rd, 2018, features some 470 photographs generously displayed over two floors at 180 The Strand, a Brutalist edifice in central London which under the direction of The Store Studios has been transformed into a multipurpose venue for hosting exhibitions and events as well as creative brands such as Dazed Media, The Vinyl Factory and FACT magazine. And if that wasn’t enough of a calling card, the building is also the new home of London Fashion Week.
Conceptually, thematically and aesthetically, the ten featured artists couldn’t be more different in their photography and yet their work shares a common narrative sensibility that has the power to immerse the viewer in their storytelling. Rather than being a collection of single images, each artist’s selected photographs constitute a unique visual realm, both coherent and cohesive, which viewers are invited to delve into. It’s about “trying to conjure up a mood, and tell a story” in the words of lyricist Keith Reid, whose 1967 hit song “A Whiter Shade of Pale" for English rock band Procol Harum was the inspiration behind the exhibition’s poetic title.
Scott has intentionally refrained from explicitly drawing parallels or pinpointing juxtapositions between the artists, choosing instead to showcase their body of work as distinct entities. This arrangement, made possible by the spaciousness of the gallery space, allows visitors to experience the work of the ten artists sequentially, akin to going through separate entries in a travel journal, each time embarking on a new, unique journey guided by the artist’s imagination and creativity.
The eclectic selection of photographers includes both established names and emerging artists as well as the likes of John Pawson and Tom Munro who are best known in other creative formats, the former in architecture and the latter in fashion photography. Unlike the minimal palette his architectural designs are known for, Pawson’s series “Spectrum” celebrates the full spectrum of colours through 320 images that focus on specific patterns, details, textures, and spatial arrangements. Presented in full, the series—which has also been published in hardback by Phaidon—effectively becomes an evocative colour sampler of immaculate beauty.
Similarly to Pawson, Tom Munro has also broken away from his established practices, abandoning the glamorous sleekness of his fashion shoots and celebrity portraits for the black and white, raw aesthetic of his “72 TOKYO” series. Documenting 72 hours that he spent in Tokyo and Kyoto, the photographs weave a frantic narrative ranging from claustrophobia to wonderment.
Pawson’s fascination with details is also evident in Canadian-British photographer Lorena Lohr’s ongoing series “Ocean Sands”, which documents the decaying suburban fabric and forgotten rural landscapes in the American Southwest using 35mm colour film and a variety of compact and inexpensive cameras, and in Italian-born, London-based fashion photographer and artist Luca Anzalone’s images of organic textures that evince a tactile, visceral sensation. Both artists take on ubiquitous settings—neglected domestic interiors and faded urban facades in Lohr's case and organic textures, rural scenes and the sun in Anzalone's—casting their eyes on overlooked details and banal sights to transform the familiar into the uncanny.
With the same dedication that Anzalone celebrates the coarse physicality of the earth we walk on, Greek-born, London-based photographer & interdisciplinary artist Ellie Tsatsou showcases the sublime wonderment of the firmament above in her ethereal series “The Moon” where the sky becomes a softly coloured canvas upon which the ghostly moon hides.
As evocative and dream-like are the images of London-based photographer Bindi Vora whose “White in the sea” series depicts vast, hazy coastal landscapes drowned in monochromatic pigmentation, as well as the work of Italian artist Federico Pestilli who combines photography and painting to produce hybrid images that subvert viewers’ perceptual expectations.
Meanwhile, Cypriot photographer Marina Shacola documents village life in rural Kenya, which acquires a transcendental quality in her "Sunscapes" series where both the foreground and the background are bleached out, making the photograph's subjects, be they people, trees or huts, triumphantly stand out against the phantom landscape.
A similarly dessert-like landscape is featured in English photographer Marco Walker’s “Bombay Beach Biennale” series but contrary to Shacola, Walker’s subjects are neither indigenous nor organic. Located on the east shore of Salton Sea in California, the natural landscape of Bombay Beach is the stage for Walker’s colourful, pop-art cut-outs that he photographs in surreal joviality.
As meticulously staged and as surreal are the photographs of Walter & Zoniel’s “The Weight of Existence” but in this case, and in contrast with most of the other exhibited artists, their work is entirely studio-based. For this series, the British duo, whose work also include installation, sculpture, film & performance, has used an assortment of found objects to build a series of multilayered, stacked assemblages, both abstract and highly symbolic, which they then photographed in a homage to both still life and portraiture. The stark yet complementary heterogeneity of Walter & Zoniel’s idiosyncratic compilations perfectly captures the sensibility of the entire exhibition, an assemblage of diverse aesthetics that gradually coalesce into reverberating harmony.