Pike Slip to Sugar Hill,
New York, 245 Tenth Avenue
For his second solo exhibition at the gallery, John Chiara handcrafted a custom 50” x 40” camera designed to capture Manhattan’s soaring verticality in kaleidoscopic color and with hyperreal clarity. Driving the enormous camera around the city in the bed of a commercial pickup truck, Chiara photographs NYC’s streets and its architecture with equal admiration for glass office towers, Beaux-Arts facades and the backsides of 19th century tenements.
Through the precision barrel lens, images are projected directly onto the scroll of color photographic paper inserted into the camera. During exposure, Chiara burns, dodges and filters the light entering through the lens, working to change the temperature of light and spectrum of color as if in the darkroom. As the image is received onto negative paper, light and shadow are reversed, as are the colors, casting his anonymous skyward views in otherworldly hues. At times resembling a blueprint, an image captured through night vision goggles or an x-ray, the unexpected palette jolts the eye from its malaise of familiarity to a heightened awareness of detail and the rich collage of textures that is New York City.
As Luc Sante observes in his July 12, 2018, essay in the New York Times Magazine, Chiara’s unique prints “… show the architecture of Manhattan in a literally new light, allowing the viewer to appreciate things often taken for granted.” They expose the minute structures and abstract components of the cityscape -- foliage, ornamental embellishments, geometric patterning -- eliciting visceral responses akin to the fragmented imagery of memory or dreams. They also strongly reference the materiality of the photographic object, with their reflective, high-gloss surface and rough-cut edges, anchoring Chiara’s fantastical, disorienting photographs in the real world.
On view through October 27, 2018