Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In
Search
AIPAD News Archive (2008)
Blog Home All Blogs
Search all posts for:   

 

Review: Keeping His Eye on the Horizon (Line) at Yossi Milo Gallery

Posted By Administration, Sunday, April 6, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014
DATE: April 6, 2008



The soft-colored photographs of Sze Tsung Leong capture contrasting landscapes: the verdant green of Germany; the mirage of shimmering towers in Dubai; the urban geometry of Amman, Jordan; the red tiles roofs of Italy. But always the eye is drawn to the distinct line where sky meets earth.


Sze Tsung Leong Victorville, California, 2006 C-Print
© Sze Tsung Leong, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery
 
In Mr. Leong's panoramic photographs of major cities and rural landscapes around the world, the horizon line consistently falls in the same place. So when his images are hung side by side — as 62 of them are now at the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea — they create an extended landscape of ancient cities and modern metropolises, desert vistas and lush terrain.

"The horizon is such a basic way of comprehending the space around us, comprehending our basic relationship to the globe," Mr. Leong said one recent morning over tea in Manhattan.

If the horizon seems to offer possibilities, he said, it also establishes a boundary. "In terms of looking, the horizon is the farthest we can see," he explained, yet in terms of knowledge, it reflects "the limit of experience."

For the last seven years Mr. Leong, a 38-year-old Chinese-American with a British accent and a Mexican birth certificate, has expanded his experience by traveling to unfamiliar cities, where his first priority is to find a sweeping view from an elevated position.

"When I'm really familiar with a place, it is more difficult to visualize it," he said, citing New York, his home, as an example. "But being confronted with a new situation, I find that I'm more aware of things visually." He traveled to Amman because he hoped the uniform construction of its buildings might cast an even pattern and tone across the surrounding hills, which would offer him distant vantage points. And the Roman ruins there attracted him as a reminder of the reach of the Roman Empire across national borders.

He often travels alone to new cities. Asked about his sense of isolation during his five days in Amman, he referred to his childhood in Mexico City, where he lived until his family moved to Los Angeles when he was 11. "There's always a sense that was natural to me from the beginning of being an outsider," he said. "I don't think about feeling foreign, because that is the natural state."

He studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., and then earned degrees in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Harvard. Perspective drawing fascinated him. "I was interested in figuring out the mechanics of how you represent space on a two-dimensional surface," he said. "And of course the horizon line plays a very important part in perspective drawing."

He points out the similarities between perspective drawing — in which divergent lines extend to vanishing points — and the flattened projection of an urban landscape against the ground glass of his 8-by-10 view camera. The grid in the viewfinder lets him compose images with matching parallel lines.

His panoramas integrate broad swaths of natural terrain, urban architecture and symbols of culture, and Mr. Leong said architectural history courses at Berkeley had a great influence on how he sees the built environment. "Their approach was to consider buildings and cities and their social and political contexts," he said. "Buildings are the result of social forces and political power."

Before traveling to Egypt, Mr. Leong picked up Max Rodenbeck's "Cairo: The City Victorious." "I read about this ancient trash heap that had been in use for several centuries, which had gotten taller and taller," he recalled. "From the top you get this view of the old part of Cairo."

He shot his panoramic image of Cairo from this ancient trash heap, now a park on a hill. He returned three times before the lighting conditions provided the tonal quality he sought. The best conditions for his preferred evenness of light occur either at noon, when the fewest shadows are cast, or when it is overcast. "When things fall into deep shadow, it is more difficult to capture a detail," he said.

Mr. Leong photographed Dubai because "it is a new city created out of oil wealth," and he shot his skyline panorama several miles away, from the surrounding desert. "I was afraid the film might get damaged," he said, since the outdoor temperature was 110 to 120 degrees in the noonday sun. "The camera was hot to the touch."

By contrast he went to Venice in January, when the winter sky was most likely to be overcast and the light would yield the finest detail. His picture "Canale della Giudecca, 2007" was taken at dusk from the mainland. The densely packed, sharply articulated buildings hover in a narrow line between water and sky.

"For this image the exposure time was about a minute," he said. "So anything that's moving becomes a blur or disappears. The water that is moving becomes a blank sheet. People sometimes ask if this picture is Photoshopped because of the blankness."

Mr. Leong still uses negative film and makes all of his prints in the darkroom. He believes that light projected through a negative onto paper provides more continuous tone than is possible with the digital process. "If you blow up a digital scan, you'll see it is made up of different squares, each one a different color, which corresponds in the computer's mind to a numerical value," he said. "In analog it will be a continuous curve."

Mr. Leong acknowledges the influence of 19th-century photographers like Felice Beato and John Thomson, who photographed in China and India using a view camera. But he also cited the contemporary photographer Thomas Struth, whose technical precision Mr. Leong admires, as well as his images documenting cities. "You're not only looking at what is depicted on the picture plane, but a kind of emotional context he is trying to describe," he said. Citing Mr. Struth's photograph of the Pantheon in Rome, he added: "There's a heaviness, the weight of history and the weight of the light. A certain sense of sadness about it."

It's a sentiment that may come to mind when viewing an earlier series by Mr. Leong, "History Images," which documents the vast rows of modern towers in China that are rapidly engulfing the country's cultural past. The photographs were shown in 2006 at the High Museum in Atlanta, and Julian Cox, its curator of photography, called the work prescient in capturing what Mr. Leong has labeled the "erasure of history."

Last year the Yale University Art Gallery acquired 15 of Mr. Leong's panoramic images, and he worked with Joshua Chuang, assistant curator of photographs, on their installation at Betts House, the university's center for international studies. Placed side by side, Mr. Chuang said, the images juxtapose modern industrial landscapes with those that are slower to change, like mountain ranges and bodies of water. "We're left to contemplate, along with the photographer, how much longer these landscapes will look this way, and why," he wrote in an e-mail message.

Another example of Mr. Leong's interest in contrasting natural terrain with the constructed environment is "Victorville, California, 2006," which depicts suburban sprawl between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

"I wanted to include an image of the new cities in the U.S., cities that lie outside of the recognizable cities," he said, adding that he was seeking an image to "communicate this sort of flatness and impending urbanization," one providing a "counterpoint to the other images I had of natural landscapes and dense cities."

The cul-de-sac in "Victorville" at first glance could be a pond. Only some of the newly built houses are occupied, and the picture was shot before any landscape planting had begun. As in so many of Mr. Leong's photographs, the natural terrain is visible and vast, even as the architectural imprint of humanity begins to encroach.

By Philip Gefter
For The New York Times

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Olaf Otto Becker: Disappearing beauty at Stephen Cohen Gallery

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 27, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014
DATE: March 27, 2008

Impending global disaster is a beautiful thing in Olaf Otto Becker'snew solo show at L.A.'s Stephen Cohen Gallery.


The German photographer, known for his Romantic renderings of northern European landscapes, sailed around Greenland snapping shots of the awesomely deteriorating environment, such as "Talerua Bay, 07/2005 70° 31'08" N, 51°38'39" W," pictured. "There are two ways to photograph things. One way is to show all the ugliness," Becker says. "I want to show the positive, and you can think if you want to do something to keep it." Ends April 19, www.stephencohengallery.com

From The Los Angeles Times

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

David Gallery: All about Eve Arnold

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 27, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014
DATE: March 27, 2008

Eve Arnold once described photography as "a combination of high adventure and low comedy, of meticulous planning and absolute change, of infinite patience and quick reflexes."


She should know, having been a star photographer for Life magazine during its heyday, as well as the first woman to join the ranks of the elite photojournalists' cooperative Magnum, in 1955. Starting Saturday, Culver City's David Gallery will host "All About Eve," a retrospective featuring 96 images from Arnold's career, including intimate portraits of Marilyn Monroe, pictured in the Nevada desert, taken over two months the photographer spent on the set of John Ford's 1961 film "The Misfits." Sat.-May 24, www.davidgallery.net

From The Los Angeles Times

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Last Call: Achim Lippoth at Fahey/Klein Gallery

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 20, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014
DATE: March 20, 2008

Apparently, Achim Lippoth is unfamiliar with the expression "Never work with children or animals."


The Cologne, Germany-based Lippoth has made photographing kids his career, and since 1995 he has published Kid's Wear, an international trend and style magazine for children's fashion. But rather than leaning on the clichés of innocence and cute sentimentality, Lippoth's photos portray childhood as a volatile, occasionally savage time (e.g., the picture below). In "Storytelling" -- a collection of staged images reminiscent of Natural History Museum dioramas now at L.A.'s Fahey/Klein Gallery -- Lippoth's favorite subjects are captured in heightened moments of conformity, camaraderie, tomfoolery and rage. Ends Sat., faheykleingallery.com

By The Los Angeles Times

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Review: Silvio Wolf at Robert Mann Gallery

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 17, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014
DATE: March 17, 2008

Some of the Italian artist's big color photographs flirt with abstraction, and others directly engage it.


"Chance 03 (Horizon 16), 2006" ©Silvio Wolf, Courtesy
Robert Mann Gallery


Two groupings depict curtains and the light that filters through and pierces them, with allusions that range from Brancusi to Wolfgang Tillmans. As with most of the images, the subject is incidental to Wolf's seductive studies in luminosity, texture, and negative space. Two pictures dispense with subject entirely, reproducing the bands and blushes of color that appear on exposed film leader, but even a photo of three human figures allows them to disappear into a lovely, white-on-white fog, more memory than presence. Through March 15. (Mann, 210 Eleventh Ave., at 25th St. 212-989-7600.)

Originally published in The New Yorker

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
Page 3 of 5
1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5
Thank you for taking the time to participate in the survey below.

Membership Management Software  ::  Legal