Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Joshua Jalbert

The Laverne Krause Gallery is right next to the photo library at the U of O. On my campus visits I check out most of the shows there. From what I've seen so far, this space is second only to the Jordan Schnitzer in terms of quality photography shows in Eugene. In October was a show of undergraduate work from a student field trip that proved more interesting than the description might suggest. The MFA Thesis show currently showing continues the strong trend.

The standout in the show for me was work by Joshua Jalbert. Jalbert does framed grids of smallish black and white images printed at extremely high contrast. Very few greys. The subject matter itself was mostly abstract. One was negative images of light reflected on water. One showed the sun as a graphic circle. Because the images were small and sometimes negative and in a grid they became even more abstract, and the effect was very much like Asian calligraphy. From 5 feet away the images of negative light looked exactly like ink brushed onto paper. Like calligraphy, you know there's a message there but it's less important than the raw beauty of the form. Now usually abstract photography is a downer for me. Close ups of cars or buildings become just a pointless puzzle, and digital manipulation that tries to be painterly bores me to tears. It goes back to Strand: If you're using a camera use it for its strength.

But despite my bias I found myself liking these images quite a bit. They were something I hadn't seen before. They pushed photography in a direction I hadn't considered.

I think I may have been biased too by the fact my mom is a calligrapher.

No comments: