Untitled Photographic Pictures: CIEL VARIABLE review by Adam Barbu

"…the photographic impulse itself is always already held in a tension between composition and incident…"

In recent years, Ottawa based artist Andrew Wright has produced numerous bodies of work that propose new readings on the ontology of the image. In particular, Wright's exhibition at Patrick Mikhail's new Montreal gallery space, titled Untitled Photographic Pictures, presents a series of large-scale photographic works and two mixed-media sculptural works that underscore the artist’s continued effort to use classical motifs and methods as a means to access broader questions concerning the medium of photography itself.

In this series of photographs, Wright opens up a rich interpretive space by taking the motif of the empty landscape and making it strange. Each photograph is a direct-from-camera snapshot taken through the window of a moving train.  As he passes by the landscape, Wright makes a deliberate jerking motion with the camera that causes the otherwise clear, focused image to be interrupted. This destabilizing movement leaves the viewer continually distanced from the "original" landscape. Within the confines of the gallery space, these visual disturbances, or “knots,” are immediately apparent to the viewer; yet, the images, captured in the moment between documentation and abstraction, are not clearly revealed. At first glance – without consulting the exhibition text, for example – one might assume that the artist has digitally edited these images to arrive at an ideal formal state. However, the critical viewer will not read these photographs simply as either completely "untouched" or "altered," but will consider the ways in which the photographic impulse itself is always already held in a tension between composition and incident. The queerness of Wright’s arrival of the image is related to his broader interest in shifting the conversation away from representation or iconographic content and toward process itself...


Akimblog Jan 29, 2013: Cheryl Pagurek @ Patrick Mikhail Gallery

Cheryl Pagurek has been photographing water for a long time. It is a typical and perhaps clichéd photographic subject that can manifest as almost anything from sweeping images of seascapes to macro views of condensing droplets. But Pagurek uses water in a way that is far less ordinary, far less pedantic, and far from predictable. Her exhibition State of Flux at Patrick Mikhail Gallery offers a suite of large prints of surprisingly varied, colourful, tight, and oblique views of the surfaces of flowing water. Culled from numerous trips in and around waterways from across the country, the images represent an assembling of pictures from three bodies of work: State of Flux, River Suite, and Wave Patterns

Cheryl Pagurek, Wave Patterns (still), 2012. HD video loop

Pagurek is a deliberate and careful image-maker and thinker. Honed from thousands of images of water at the more placid end of the scale, the works collected at PMG are the end point of a considered process of observation and selection. The results are, at times, strangely unfamiliar. The super-saturated reflections available when Pagurek prefers to shoot (at twilight) would seem to have only a tenuous relationship to observable reality. We happily suspend our disbelief when we recognize the highly morphed and abstracted elements of the mirrored world out of frame.

There is also a video, titled Wave Patterns, which plays with the opposition of the chaotic nature of fluidity and the strictly regimented structure of the grid. Twelve videos fade in and out to create new potential and fleeting compositions through their adjacency. But there is far more than compositional play at work here: the accompanying audio track consists of sounds of construction, tools grinding, hammers pounding, and the inevitable advancement of building development. Pagurek stops short of proclaiming some sort of indirect argument for environmental causes, and the exhibition remains concerned with the building of pictures of unstable states. In her words: "the video creates a dynamic choreography of change over time, simultaneously exploring both fragmentation and unity." The same can be said of the exhibition as a whole.

Patrick Mikhail Gallery: http://www.patrickmikhailgallery.com/

Cheryl Pagurek: State of Flux continues until February 9.

Andrew Wright is an artist who has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, with exhibitions at Presentation House, UC Berkeley, Oakville Galleries, Photo Miami, and ARCO Madrid, to name a few. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards. Nominated six times for the Sobey Art Award he was a semi-finalist in 2007. In 2011 he won the inaugural BMW Exhibition Award at Contact Photography Festival in Toronto. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa and Akimblog's Ottawa correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWrightArt