Photo London 2016: Favourites (Part 1)

The second iteration of Photo London (19-22 May 2016) boasted more than eighty galleries from the art capitals (New York, London, Paris, Berlin) but also from cities further afield -Madrid, Sydney, Moscow or Argentina. Big players exhibited next to the smaller ones, gallerists next to publishers, which ensured that the event remained abuzz throughout the whole of its four-day duration. The visitor numbers climbed up to 35,000 and given the resounding success of the fair,  it is reasonable to expect still more and more ambitions things to come (we will see next year! 18-21 May 2017).

After spending five days ‘on the ground’, these were the artists who interested me most (however, unsurprisingly, the list is not comprehensive- I could not possibly run through tens of photographers on this blog!)

1.Chloe Sells (Michael Hoppen Gallery)


Chloe Sells (b.1976), an analogue photographer and banana farmer from Botswana, creates unique C-type prints that capture nature but get manipulated by hand in the darkroom. Her desire to present subjective, intuitive imagery is revealed through her personalization of individual images- adding colours, shapes and textures that accentuate the tactility of the traditional photographic process and the artist’s perception of the fields that inspire her work.

2. Karine Laval (Crane Kalman)


The New York-based photographer immerses herself in the world of private and public gardens for the series Heterotopia but, similarly to Chloe Sells, proceeds to construct altered, dreamy visuals. Laval employs superimposition, reflection and distortion that are, of course, coterminous with contemporary ways of being and seeing. Clarity and identifiability shatter in her layers of shadows and mirror images and both, exhilaration and menace lurk in the frames.

3. John Chiara (Yossi Milo Gallery)

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Yossi Milo bring something fresh and clever to the table every time they participate. Last year, they displayed Chris McCaw’s minimal yet stunning sunburnt photographs and this year, they introduced John Chiara (b.1971) and his self-built camera (that the artist actually needs to STEP INTO). Chiara shoots directly on colour photographic paper which results in inverted, saturated reds, oranges and yellows. They suggest the innards of the city and its architecture and even another way of feeling the urban environment. The usually dull concrete surfaces are transformed into radiantly burning planes in which the artist searches for ‘sublime, transitory space.’

4. Flore (Blanca Berlín Gallery)

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If some earlier mentioned artists teased the viewers with semi-real spaces, Flore’s (b.1963) output fully inhabits them. The series exhibited by the Madrid gallery Blanca Berlín, ‘Choses vues au royaume oe Siam’, demonstrates the photographer’s interest in how to translate notions such as uncanny, exotic and elusive into small monochromatic works. Flore is also one of the photographers who perpetuate the appeal of Polaroids – no wonder that her images appear to come from distant eras.

5.Takashi Homma (MACK publishing)

In April 2016, Homma’s (b.1962) new photo book, The Narcissistic City, was published and it was already being snapped up from the shelves at Photo London. The popular Japanese artist has spent decades investigating his birthplace, Tokyo, and is the author of the award-winning Tokyo Suburbia (1998). The latest work marks his deviation from the former impersonal style and features images originally produced in his camera obscuras, built in the city’s hotel rooms: ‘The concept was to use architecture to take pictures of architecture.’ The results are dark, disquieting fragments whose presence lingers not only over the city but also over the the pages of this wonderful photo book.




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