The FOCUS is on abstract photography at LG Tripp through January 12. It’s the fifth year that the gallery, better known for showing abstract painting, is holding its annual abstract photography exhibition. Each year FOCUS invites seven artists who are thinking about photography’s material qualities and its potential to work abstractly. Of the artists represented this year, Jennie Barrese and Ken Cushman are New York-based, while the remaining artists are all local.
Mounted in shadow boxes, Johanna Inman’s close-up views of old books resemble objects. With their paper surfaces hidden behind glass, it isn’t immediately clear if they are photographs or another type of material. A watermark resembles an abstract painting, worn edges reveal new layers of color, and a soft focus or blur in areas gives the images a painterly quality. By choosing books as her subjects, Inman references the printed surface and the photograph as both image and object.
Christopher Kennedy, Ken Cushman, and Saga Moor are also thinking about photographic material. Their abstract photographs of light streaks point to light as photography’s main component. Both Kennedy and Cushman have printed their individual bodies of work on high gloss aluminum surfaces that reinforce the luminous quality of each piece. In addition to being printed on the glossy surface, Ken Cushman’s photographs are of crumpled pieces of aluminum that reflect the streaks of light and further abstract the image.
David Sacks and Jennie Barrese are concerned with natural forms. Sacks preserves a vanishing landscape with his photograph, “Glacier Detail, El Calafante, Argentina.” Jennie Barrese photographs droplets suspended in liquid that recall microscopic components.
Favoring an up-close approach to abstraction, Eric Porter photographs various textures and patterns in the urban landscape to create his compositions.
While all of the exhibiting artists are concerned with the material qualities of the photograph, Johanna Inman’s work succeeds by being the most ambiguous in terms of materials. By recognizing photographs as both images and objects, her work is the most thought provoking in the bunch.