Walter Hugo: Implicit: Explicit
50 ½ East 57th Street, 6th Floor, NY, NY 10022
In association with Turnbull & Asser, Carrie Scott Represents is pleased to make her New York debut with Walter Hugo’s first solo show in the city. From April 4th to May 11th 2013, Hugo’s work will be displayed at The Sixth Floor.
Walter Hugo is a young London based Artist, born and raised in the city. Multi-disciplinary in his practice, much of Hugo’s work is centred on utilising scientific process and pioneering the modern development of early photographic techniques. Devoid of the overwhelmingly polished look of a contemporary photograph, Hugo’s evolved ambrotypes, tintypes, salt prints and pigment prints are not only laboured with the marks of their own hand making, but also capture the life of the subject in an unparalleled way. Silver nitrate washes across haunting portraits. Salt deposits leave blotches of the sea across sublime compositions. In essence, the effect of Hugo’s aesthetic entreats us to engage with the history of photography in an entirely contemporary manner.
Working within the mediums of sculpture, photographic process, film and performance. His work focuses on visually charming and enticing the viewer into thought and momentary escapism, whilst dealing predominantly with the human condition, evoking a relationship and questioning between all elements involved.
Implicit : Explicit
Implicit : Explicit shows two distinctively evolving streams in Hugo's practice. The first, which he categorises as Implicit; deals with Hugo's recent series where he has developed techniques to utilise the subjects of his work as a part of the actual creation process. The result is that the subject itself becomes part of the art work, engaging threads of re-incarnation and the cyclic nature of our existence into his subject matter along with the stories of the individual pieces.
In contrast, the work Hugo categorises as Explicit focuses strongly and specifically on the external image, and the various projections or perceptions of his subjects. In the works shown; Iconostatus & Theories, Hugo captures images of individuals using different formats in his hand built room-sized camera. The works study the manner in which we perceive others, with large formatting on glass and tin, the life sized images draw the viewer into the questions of our perception of image and social placement.
Both of the streams of work exhibited utilise Hugo's complex and pioneering techniques of production and are a clear representation of his developing styles.
Implicit : Explicit, on display at The Sixth Floor shows four distinct series united by their unwavering homage to the subject in each print.
In Theories, Hugo’s unique glass plate ambrotypes intensely reflect each sitter. As the subjects steady themselves in front of Hugo’s 19th century lens for 18-20 second exposures, intensity washes across their faces. Gone is the instant frame of a snapshot. Instead we are left penetrated by the focus and concentration of the sitter – a landscape of flesh and mind. Traditionally beautiful women appear raw, vulnerable and yet somehow entirely exquisite without being retouched. Men, paired down in appearance, are more honest in their strength than in the images that typically surround us.
Iconostatus injects color into Hugo’s oeuvre. Born during a 3 month residency in London’s East End gallery Four Corners, Hugo celebrates the local community of the East End by creating portraits of characters as he came across them in the street. Each one then meticulously hand painted and gilded, the result is a wall of portraits echoing religious iconography, celebrating street culture and re-defining an often miss-interpreted / mis-understood sector of society.
In the work Life With, Hugo turns for the first time to listless objects as a form of representation of the self. After collecting broken and discarded chairs from around the United Kingdom, Hugo then hiked with them into one of the darkest places in the world during the middle of the night. Completely devoid of light pollution, the Scottish forest provided the artist with the perfect environment to set each chair on fire before photographing them as they burned, the only source of light being that which they were emitting during their transformation. Walter then uses the wood from each chair to make the paper on which the photographs are printed; the limited number of each print has therefore been dictated by the amount of paper produced during the destruction and reincarnation of each individual chair. Against the wooded environment, the history of the chair – from its beginnings as part of a tree, to its life as a chair, right through to its violent end as a much worn piece of furniture - is brought to the fore and then recycled as Hugo makes it into the paper on which the story is told.
Using the subject of the photograph as the means with which the image is produced, is a concept also put to work in Hugo’s The Nature Of Interdependence. This series sees the artist going to specific coastal points around the United Kingdom to create salt-prints using the water from the ocean he is photographing. Hugo collects water from within the exact point of his composition, which he then distils and recombines to poetically produce a print of the sea made with the sea itself.
Together, these four series unite Hugo’s unrelenting desire to reproduce a fleeting moment in perpetuity and to utilize techniques which are able to carry the weight of time in order to highlight the transitory nature of the moment captured in the composition.