My friend and photographer Bénédicte Lassalle and I visited the Fraenkel Gallery to see Richard Learoyd’s newest group of unique prints made from his custom Camera Obscura. The artist’s camera, when taken “on location” is pictured below. Light is projected via the ancient concept of camera obscura using a lens, a darkened room and a photographic sheet of paper. You can see theses gorgeous works at the gallery until Oct. 26 – hurry! Only a few more days!
Working with a large and portable camera obscura of his own construction, Learoyd has journeyed outside of his London studio, into the art-historically rich English countryside, producing images that have long been latent in his imagination. Bringing a refined studio sensibility to the geology of the landscape, at times Learoyd introduces an element of implied narrative through subtle intervention and staged figures. In Gordale Scar we are confronted with a vast rock wall, interrupted only at the upper right corner by a long view into a canyon; in For Cookham Read Holt we are presented, without explanation, the severed boughs of a magnolia tree suspended by white thread above a grassy lawn. Deftly woven through the exhibition are several in-studio still lifes and portraits that form a bridge with his continuing studio practice.
Made within the past year, the roughly fifteen photographs exhibited in The Outside World are large-format, black-and-white gelatin silver contact prints, made using the negative/positive process invented roughly 170 years ago by Englishman W. H. Fox Talbot. Among the largest contact prints ever made—up to 80 inches wide—Learoyd has consistently produced photographic images using unconventional methods. The finished prints have an object quality that defies accurate reproduction.
Learoyd was born in 1966 in Lancashire, England, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. He lives and works in London. His work is in the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; among others.