I was fortunate to visit this contemporary photography gallery in Moscow’s Red October district (a regenerated area that was a former vast sweet factory). The whole area and the buildings still have the feel of its industrial past.
There was an exhibition of the work of two contemporary Russian photographers, plus a touring exhibition called ‘the last samurai’ which showed photographs from the 1890s of Japanese delegations to other parts of the world (USA, Europe) as Japan ended its age of isolationism.
I am discussing the work of the Russian photographers as that was of most interest to me. It was regrettable that no catalogue or photo books of their work were available – apparently a difficulty in securing funding to make this possible.
Erwin Parviz’s work focused on areas of decay and poverty within Moscow. Bleak urban landscapes in black and white. As I don’t read Russian, I was unable to gain much information from the narrative boards by the photos.
Parviz made use of stark environments, interesting points of view and high contrast light (often shooting into the sun) to make dramatic images.
The other photographer was Vladimir Filonov, with whom I was particularly impressed. There was also more information available in English on the man and his work. I learned that like many soviet photographers, he trained as an engineer and has no formal training in photography. Over a period of 30 years his work has covered a range of styles from direct documentary work to fantastic collages.
Some of his work told the story of the ordinary people of Russia and how they live. The work was lyrical and full of contrasts, much like this iPhone shot of Filonov’s photo of a young boy and old man.
As I continue to develop my own skills, I am reminded by the work of great photographers that there needs to be interest throughout the frame to make an image compelling. While this might not be achieved in the moment of a spontaneous shot, those not making the grade need to be edited out ruthlessly and without attachment to the moment in which the photo was made.
I have made a note to find out more about the work of Filonov but suspect that I’ll need to enlist the help of Russian friends to help with language!
Lumiere Gallery [website]. Available from: http://www.lumiere.ru [accessed 25.9.15]
The Moscow Times [online] (15.9.15) . Vladimir Filonov: An Amateur Lover of Photography. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/vladimir-filonov-an-amateur-lover-of-photography/530907.html [accessed 19.9.15]