I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Japan has long fascinated photographers – from Tokyo’s futuristic architectural tapestry to awe-inspiring natural marvels (Mt Fuji springs to mind), it is a visually charged place that stirs fantasy. The latest artist to turn his lens to the curious country – more specifically, Kyoto and its ancient gardens – is Israeli photographer and 2015 Prix Pictet nominee Ori Gersht, who recently debuted his new project Floating World at London gallery Ben Brown Fine Arts.
Ben Brown Fine Arts is pleased to present Floating World, the first major gallery show in London devoted to international photographer and 2015 Prix Pictet nominee Ori Gersht. The exhibition will debut the artist’s latest body of work, a series of photographs capturing the ancient gardens in Buddhist Zen temples in and around Kyoto.
Working from his London studio, Gersht has gained international recognition over the past fifteen years for his eye-catching still-lifes and landscapes, in which he revisits history, journeys and places often defined by trauma. Tensions between past and present, beauty and violence, creation and destruction continue to inhabit Gersht’s distinct visual language, expressed through a set of coded references and metaphors.
The artist’s iconic landscapes include the After War series (1998) for which he received critical acclaim, taken in Sarajevo at the end of the war in Bosnia; the White Noise series (2000), shot from the train between Krakow and Auschwitz, with its abstract imagery eerily capturing the passing of time; and more recently Evaders (2009), where Gersht retraces the steps of his muse Walter Benjamin’s fateful journey across the Pyrenees. Gersht’s rare ability to evoke the emotional resonance of these historical sites often stems from his intimate connection to them, as expressed in his famous photographs of the forests in Western Ukraine where his family hid during World War II.
In his still-lifes Gersht takes more visible cues from art historical masterpieces, uniting his influences from Spanish and Dutch still-life painting with new technologies. Although highly choreographed he allows his camera to capture the accidental, using subtle metaphors to explore the transcience of life. A seminal series titled Pomegranate (2006) presents the pomegranate - a religious symbol in Judaism, with its 613 seeds representing the number of commandments in the Torah - in a chiaroscuro still-life setting, capturing the moment it is brutally pierced by a bullet.
In November 2015 Gersht began work on his Floating World series in Japan, visiting and photographing the ancient gardens in Buddhist Zen temples in and around Kyoto. Created to reflect the essence of nature and as aids to meditation, these gardens are places where time stands still and history is palpable. For Gersht they represent an alternative to our image saturated ‘world in flux’. Gersht focused his lens on water reflections and during the post-production process seamlessly fused reflections with the reflected world to create illusions and a new reality, hovering between what he calls the virtual and material. In these works we are presented with the absence of the object of representation whereby the photograph becomes the thing that exists, an image of the folding of space and time. Much like in his earlier landscape series, Gersht intends to document something that is not physically present.
The intrigue in virtual and material is a continuation from his celebrated 2014 series, On Reflection. The series was inspired by early seventeenth-century paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder. Having placed a replica of Brueghel’s floral bouquet in a mirrored studio, Gersht positioned two high-definition cameras on different optical planes, one on the mirror’s glass surface (the material) and the other onto the reflection of flowers (the virtual). Using explosive charges Gersht shattered the mirrors capturing the beautiful split-second fracturing with two focal points: the first witnessing the minute details of craquelure and shards of glass with jewel-toned background while the other renders the vase of flowers with great clarity and vibrancy. Each depicting an alternative reality of the same event, the images question the relationship between creation and destruction and the material and the virtual worlds.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1967, Gersht received a bachelor’s degree in photography, film and video at the University of Westminster, London, and a master’s degree in photography from the Royal College of Art, London. Gersht has had solo exhibitions at such prestigious institutions as Tate Britain, London; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, CT; and The Jewish Museum, New York, NY. Gersht’s work is included in numerous private and public collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Israel Museum, Jerusalem. In 2015 Gersht was shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Pictet. He currently lives and works in London.
BEN BROWN FINE ARTS
Founded in 2004, Ben Brown Fine Arts is located on Brook’s Mews in the heart of Mayfair. The gallery has prominently positioned itself on the contemporary art scene with the sole UK representation of artists such as Ron Arad, Tony Bevan, Ori Gersht, Candida Höfer, Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, Gavin Turk, Not Vital and Heinz Mack. Also renowned for its strong expertise in 20th century Italian art, the gallery has been exhibiting the work of Lucio Fontana and Alighiero Boetti, amongst others, since its inception. In 2009 Ben Brown Fine Arts took their first step in an international expansion with the opening of an exhibition space in Hong Kong.
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