Reading time: 4 min

Photo London – highlights – Tom Blachford, Richard Mosse and friends.

A whistle stop lunchtime tour of Photo London at Somerset House revealed that Simplicity, Emptiness (see loneliness and sadness for more details), Americana and Forestry remain unshaken as the most consistent and dominating themes in the photography of the last five years.

Here, quiet misty jungles jostled for space with Harry Cory Wright’s land and seascapes, while there Matthew Pilsbury’s Absent but Present and decidedly black and white portraits of architectural landmarks contrasted with Karen Knorr’s roaming majestic animals in faded magnificent palaces. And yet, where all differed, the homogeneity of good taste, muted colours and wearability nevertheless prevailed. While there were of course a couple of notable exceptions – think orange, think cat ears, think cat ears straddling a supersize black cat and you’re getting the picture quite literally – this was largely a buyers’ market, a market for easy thoughtless ‘Pieces’, pieces to hang over a console table, pieces to fit that tricky corner you’ve never found anything else for or indeed the corridor leading to your guest loo, pieces that don’t offend or provoke, pieces that were at times undeniably beautiful but that still overridingly left you feeling that they would just fit somewhere, anywhere, really really well.

Amid the usual Lee Friedlanderesque Americana soared the unusual and arresting voice of Tom Blachford, whose long-exposured take on Palm Springs’ architecture ‘Midnight Modern ‘abandoned the well-worn path to pastel banality with a dark and eerie mise-en-scene that evoked Crewdson at his most unearthly. Empty and yet utterly devoid of the loneliness that so often befriends emptiness, the ethereal quality of Blachford’s work spoke of Sixth Sense Worlds and Beings. A Life Beyond Our Remit captured cleverly and singularly in ‘Futuro I’ the odd, but-not, one out in the collection – an extraordinarily perfect alien space craft seemingly stumbled upon behind the white picket fences of a Palm Springs yard.

Tom Blachford

 

Elsewhere bold bright beautiful colour finally erupted at Carlier Gebauer where Richard Mosse’s extraordinary infrared series from the Congo continues to dazzle. While the shocking pinks of Congolese landscapes, scarlet reds of warlords’ caps and teal rivers are a well-trodden path for many, having first been released under the series ‘Infra’ in 2011, the images nevertheless endlessly fascinate and arrest. Past the all-pervasive invasive pink, these images tell the story of a Horror left behind, of war, power struggles and human devastation, a story of displacement that Mosse continues to arduously document today (Heat Maps), just with a little lot less pink. If you are unfamiliar with Mosse’s work and would like a break from the realm of easy pieces make sure you Stop and Stare here, this is an Important and Beautiful body of work.

Richard Mosse
Richard Mosse

 

Richard Mosse

 

While there are many other well worn, well known galleries exhibiting and I saw glimpses of many pre-loved photographers, as well as a few new discoveries such as Martin Essl and Maia Flor at Galerie Woerdehoff, Michael Koerner at Edelman and Yoshinori Mizutani at Ibasho, the final Stand and Stare stop of my #driveby viewing happened at Huxley Parlour with two images by Todd Hido. Darkly sinister, menacing and suggestive of our apocalyptic now times, I wanted them both, which marked the perfect death knell for a well spent lunch hour.

Martin Essl

 

Michael Koerner

 

Yoshinori Mizutani

 

Todd Hido
Todd Hido

 

Photo London

Last day today, 19 May 2019

Somerset House
12.00 – 18.30

photolondon.org