It was something of a last minute decision to go and see what was on at The Lowry in Salford yesterday, and the decision was somewhat heavily influenced by ease of parking.
So it was wonderful to find two great exhibitions on at the moment. One from the permanent collection about that famous Son of Salford (and Manchester and Lancashire) Streets, JS Lowry, and another presenting the magnificent photographic portraits of Nadav Kander.
I wasn’t familiar with his work. I can’t imagine how it has passed me by. The photographs on show were riveting, arresting and beguiling. They evoked timelessness and a depth of figurative exploration which I just didn’t expect.
Photography, as with painting, often suffers from the been there, seen that, reaction of a viewing public sated with imagery and exposed to such a huge variety of technique and approach that it’s hard to deliver something different sometimes. But Kander’s work did say something different.
From the time lapse, vaguely layered effects, I assume (though I haven’t read up yet about his approach) that he makes use of digital technology. But maybe not. A very famous photographer from the 1960s was recently interviewed on the radio and was very disparaging about digital photography. He didn’t consider it to even be photography, because anyone could do it, and most of it was rubbish.
I don’t agree with that. I’ve posted before how I think the democratisation of photography is a force for good. Lots of people producing great images is no bad thing.
But what true artists like Kander show is that there is still a level beyond and out of reach of the average mobile device snapper.
The mobile snapper has some considerable way to go before the ubiquitous Hipstamatic or Instagram or Camera + filters meet the grandeur and power of Kander’s photography.
And that’s a very good thing too. I like being reminded that great results have to be worked for, and really do demand focus, professionalism and genuine talent.