Thursday, December 15, 2011

JOHN CHIARA | 'Fort at Lime Point' – Art Practical Review

John Chiara
Bunker Road at Coastal Trail, Fort Barry Range (Right), 
2011; image on Ilfochrome paper
unique photograph; 33 1/4 x 28 3/4 in. 

"John Chiara’s milky, murky, mesmerizing pictures of Northern California landscapes at Von Lintel Gallery, in New York—1890s artillery nest roads, sun-rich scrub, sloping San Francisco neighborhoods—work slowly and plaintively. Gradually, shrubs, weeds, and mid-century flat-roofed hillside homes give way to fine details and a suffering that suggests estrangement and unresolved events.

Chiara was raised in the 1970s and ’80s in the Bay Area and watched patiently as his father slowly developed prints in a makeshift darkroom inside the family’s garage. Today, he crawls in and out of a large-scale hand-built camera he transports to outdoor locations on a flatbed trailer and prints directly onto paper he cuts out of the camera. The results are jagged, lustrous pictures.

In interviews, Chiara mentions legendary photographer Richard Misrach, a mentor, and Lewis Baltz, a member of the seminal New Topographic photographers, with whom he shares a tendency to list the precise location where photographs were taken.1 However, it is Chiara’s interest in chance that recalls Italian conceptualist Silvio Wolf, whose photochemical Horizons (2003–2009) produced hypnotic, emotional results. It also aligns him with American landscape photographer Bryan Graf and his Wildlife Analysis pictures.

For the patient, Fort at Lime Point incrementally releases a kind of sadness. Chiara’s pictures, which wear his cuts and tape, call to mind found photographs, and the inscrutable way memory works, or grief. There’s a burnt, raw quality here. There’s also eloquence."

Read full review @ Art Practical

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