Veils of abstraction

Untitled (1 July 1994)

Gerhard Richter, Untitled (1 July 1994), 1994

The end of summer is in sight and everything is starting afresh. It might sound odd, but Autumn always feels like the start of something new to me. Certainly, it’s the time of year when my thoughts turn to what to show a new intake of students. Some things don’t change much of course, but there are always works I’ve come across recently (many of them probably written about here already) or things I know well but now want to talk about differently. I’ll need to get my art history hat on pretty soon but before that I get to show a random selection of art to help get some ideas going and, with luck, defy a few expectations and destroy some preconceptions. All of which means that in a way I’m quite surprised to find myself trawling through Gerhard Richter’s Overpainted Photographs, but it’s a body of work that somehow always seems relevant.

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Time, light and completeness

Hiroshi Sugimoto, In the Praise of Shadow, 1999

To a greater or lesser extent all photography is about time and light. A long exposure can make turn something ordinary into a softly unfamiliar image; a short exposure can freeze a moment in time giving a picture the naked eye could never isolate. For Hiroshi Sugimoto the duration of a photograph is often determined by its subject. In the series In the Praise of a Shadow all the light given out by candle is recorded in a single image; Sugimoto describes this as recoding ‘the life of a candle‘.

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