Richard Learoyd: Unique Photographs, September 24 – October 31, 2009

RICHARD LEAROYD: Unique Photographs

MCKEE GALLERY: September 24 – October 31, 2009
OPENING RECEPTION: September 24, 6-8pm

We are proud to present the first exhibition in America by the English photographer RICHARD LEAROYD.

This is also the first ever exhibition of photographs at the McKEE GALLERY.

After graduating in photography from the Glasgow School of Art in 1992, Richard Learoyd has taught and lectured in various art schools, all the while experimenting in unconventional technique based on the principles of the ‘camera obscura’. The extraordinary results are best described by Martin Barnes, chief curator of photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in his 2007 essay “Reverie and Presence.” Originally published in the book Richard Learoyd: Twenty-Two Photographs 2005/2007, the essay was later reprinted in Hot Shoe International Magazine: Fresh Perspectives on Contemporary Photography, February/March 2008, p. 18-27:

Richard Learoyd’s photographs have recently emerged into the art world seemingly from nowhere. Visually, they are bold, poised, and magnetically beautiful. Beneath their alluring appearance lies a deeply inquiring and subtle intellect. Although his images convey something of their power when reproduced, nothing can compare with the wonder and presence felt when seeing one of the original, large-scale photographs. By sheer force of visual impact, they initially jolted my default tools of critique out of kilter – and replaced them with the pure pleasure of the eye. Observing his work has reinvigorated for me the profound delight of simply looking at photographs…

I am reminded of the haunting thrill particular to looking at nineteenth-century daguerreotypes, the very first types of photographs introduced in 1839, on which the images is fixed on a highly polished and silver metal plate. In daguerreotypes we come face to face with the dead, seemingly resurrected through the act of looking at them in the surface of a mirror. Learoyd’s photographs feel uncannily similar. But where monochrome daguerreotypes fit in the palm of the hand, Learoyd’s over-life-sized color works have impact on the wall. His processes of production, subjects and sitters are modern; yet the feelings his images evoke seem to beckon from the dawn of photography. Learoyd rekindles something of the marvel of this creative collision of science and art that so captivated and bewitched the Victorians. His evident passion for experimentation, his knowledge and interest in the chemistry and optics of photography, comes across I image like those who were fired by the medium over one-hundred and sixty years ago…

Learoyd’s images occupy a unique place in the practice of contemporary fine art photography. I can think of no-one else working with the same methods or in quite the same way. His pictures are refreshingly, not conceptually driven; but neither do they fall as a result into mere decoration or technical display. They carry historical relevance, but they are undeniably f our time. Due to their visual impact, we cannot help but stare at them and feel perhaps even a mild embarrassment over the painfully sensuous proximity they reach in relation to our senses …

We come to know his subjects intimately, yet they remain paradoxically and beautifully mysterious…

Agnes in Striped Dress
Agnes in Striped Dress 2007
unique Ilfochrome print
68 x 48 inches
172.7 x 121.9 cm

A More Insidious Root
A More Insidious Root 2007
unique Ilfochrome print
48 x 68 inches
121.9 x 172.7 cm