Last Updated:Jul 1, 2007

James Welling: “New Photographs”

Photographer James Welling is showing 8 new pieces at Wako Works of Art in Shinjuku.

The works come from two of his working series, “Flowers” and “Screens”, both of which are created through direct contact of object, light and metallic photo paper (in “Flowers” the object is Plumbago flowers, in “Screens” it is light itself). Thus, Welling eliminates the camera from the photographic method.

The “Flowers” series consists of pink, blue and yellow silhouettes of the Plumbago flower. Like a painting, the long thin stems and clusters of petals are carefully composed to create carefully balanced asymmetry. The gradated colours bleed into each other, occasionally fading into the impossibly white background. The flatness of the image connotes spray-stencil art or printed fabric. In “Screens” (only 1 piece is shown here), the entire surface is orange, with occasional sweeps of yellow that give the image a warm glow.

Through the elimination of the camera, the spontaneity that defines the photographic medium is absent from Welling’s works. The air of unreality about the way that the flowers poise in the frame is a little uncanny, and maybe even mundane when compared to, for example, digitally enhanced graphic images which they almost resemble. But then, the reality of the fact that these are indeed ‘photographs’ drags you back and forces you, once again, to confront the images in front of you.

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Lena Oishi

Lena Oishi

Born in Japan in 1982, grew up in England and Australia. With a BA in Media and Communications and MA in Cinema Studies, she now lives in Tokyo as a freelance translator and occasional editor. Works include VICE Magazine, Japanese editorial supervision of "Metronome No. 11 - <i>What Is To Be Done? Tokyo</i> " (Seikosha, 2007), and translation for film and art festival catalogs. She can also interpret simultaneously if you give her enough candy. Lena likes making her eyeballs bleed after watching way too many films while eating ice cream in the dark.

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