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Art review: Perspectives on Collage at the Photographers’ Gallery

Anna Parkina's collage is one of the works on show at the Perspectives on Collage exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery. Picture: The Photographers' Gallery Anna Parkina's collage is one of the works on show at the Perspectives on Collage exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery. Picture: The Photographers' Gallery

Julio Etchart
Thursday, January 24, 2013
12:18 PM

The new exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery showcases different approaches to collage, from conceptual to political and cultural critique.

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Perspectives on Collage at the Photographers’ Gallery

Exhibitions run until April 7.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm, Thursday 10am to 8pm, Sunday 11.30am to 6pm.

16 – 18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW

Free admission

I have long been a fan of David Hockney’s mastery of the genre, a painstaking technique that he perfected in the mid 1980s with the superb Pearblossom Highway and Yosemite Valley from his series on American landscapes.

The spirit of Hockney is alive here, maybe in Peggy Franck’s assemblages from everyday materials, which are photographed and re-presented as ambiguous two-dimensional images. But also perhaps in C.K. Rajan’s subtle series Mild Terrors, where newspaper images of man-made landscapes or buildings mix with close-up details of glamorous magazine layouts, responding to the social and cultural contradictions of economic modernization.

There are also strong political undercurrents in the set.

The commercial appeal of Nicole Wermers’ collages borrows from the worlds of design, fashion and advertising. She cleverly re-arranges her source material into abstractions, while the Czech artist Jan Svoboda’s Fragment of a Table explores the photographic plane using torn-up and folded remnants of his own works in simple arrangements. She follows her country’s impressive tradition of graphic art and collage used in film posters during the Communist era.

Roy Arden’s tactile work casts an analytical eye on history while exploring psychological and political themes, and Clunie Reid showcases kitsch internet icons collaged alongside loose marker pen drawings, stickers and text. Borrowing from advertising, the Internet and other mainstream media, her work throws today’s visual culture into sharp critical light.

Spoilt for choice, I found Batia Suter’s Wave, a sculpture of overlapping books featuring photos of waves, the most alluring work, along with Anna Parkina’s meticulous collages, which re-appropriate her own photographs into tightly layered compositions while echoing the Russian avant-garde, Seventies punk and the cinematic world. She also works in sculpture, painting, photography and performance. Born in Moscow, and trained in Paris and California, she has contributed to shows in European capitals and the prestigious Venice Biennale.

However, it is the work of the late Brazilian artist Geraldo de Barrios that truly stands out. His engagement with photography took place during two intensive periods of experimentation at the beginning and end of his diverse career. In the last two years of his life he made Sobras (Remains), a final burst of photographic energy, which resulted in over 250 intricate collages. The display at the gallery traces connections across his practice, showing them alongside vintage contact prints and archival material.

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