In a succession of six large-scale photographic pieces, set off against the pristine white backdrop of Marian Goodman’s Soho space, Jeff Wall’s latest work calls to attention the intricacies deliberated in the act of seeing. Developed over the course of eighteen months, the Canadian artist’s work will be exhibited concurrently in the gallery’s New York and London venues.
Standing centrally, I feel as though I have entered a control room. Gazing out from six windows I have a panoptical view of atypical human lives playing out in unusual intensity. Somehow each photograph retains an element of the bizarre, a surrealist slant that becomes overwhelmingly obvious when life is slowed to such an extent that it can be captured within a frame.
Veering between a near-documentary approach and the dramatic formal qualities of a historical painting, all shot in a striking cinematographic style, Wall’s works court the grey area between mediums. His images are staged reproductions of a memory and often take time to come to fruition, undermining the immediacy of traditional journalistic photography and bringing forth his signature visual language. It is this language which has perhaps cemented Wall’s position as one of his generations’ most influential photographers.
To quote Wall: ‘Experience and evaluation are richer responses than gestures of understanding or interpretation.’ His latest offerings follow suit, they are magnetic in their detail and the process of absorption that unfurls – Staircase & two rooms, 2014 is visually arresting. One door opens, a man furtively listens to the empty echoes of the stairwell, while concealed within a second room, a glamorous figure is laid out on a bed, wrapped in silk, conversing with a hidden companion. Shrouded in a Lynchian mystique, Wall’s recent body of work leaves questions unanswered and it is up to you to fill in the blanks.
The surface of his works become a fertile hunting ground–the longer you stare, the more you will unearth.
Jeff Wall is showing at Marian Goodman London and New York until 19 December