Thomas Erben is excited to present a third solo exhibition with celebrated photographer Tom Wood (b. 1951, Ireland). Since his last show with the gallery in 2003, Wood has been recognized as a defining presence in early British colour photography, along with Martin Parr and Paul Graham. Most recently, the Photographers' Gallery (London) featured Wood in a highly acclaimed exhibition. His work is currently on view in the major retrospective Tom Wood: Britain 1973-2012, at the Ekaterina Foundation (Moscow), and in a two person show with Martin Parr at the Liverpool International Photo Festival. The works at Thomas Erben are selected from Wood's forthcoming pair of books, Men and Women (Steidl), on which he collaborated with artist Padraig Timoney.
After studying at the conceptually oriented Leicester Polytechnic until 1976, Wood moved to Merseyside, an English county which includes Liverpool, where he lived and photographed until 2003. By working within this limited area he gradually became very much a part of the environment, accepted among his subjects as Photieman, which later became the title of his 2005 book.
Wood does not consider himself a documentary photographer; his aim is to explore the richness and complexity of the photograph as a picture. Photography initially entered his practice through the collecting of postcards, which he would purchase in bulk from thrift stores and then examine and organise in broad categories–a methodology that still characterises his process. Wood takes his photographs in an open manner, shooting quickly yet precisely, to admit chance into both content and form. From thousands of prints, a second process of discovery consists of choosing and editing, determining over time which of the pictures fit his criteria for an image that, as he says: 'works.'
The resulting photographs are spectacularly considered in terms of composition as well as the use of colour and shape. While it is easy to emphasise subject matter in Wood's work, the formal aspects are at least as important: a singular way of tilting the horizon just so, of slightly cropping a man's hand right at the fingertips, or relating one lady on the far left side of an image to another on the right. These photographs manage to look equally off-kilter and perfectly balanced. And Wood tempers his direct and unapologetic gaze with a subtle form of empathy, vividly showing his subjects as they are, neither mocking nor romanticizing them. His unique combination of form and content makes for substantial, exceedingly complex photography, decisively confirming Wood's position as one of themajor photographers of his generation.
Press release courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery.