vrijdag 3 augustus 2018

Views & Reviews Does Yellow Run Forever? Paul Graham Photography

Does Yellow Run Forever
Graham, Paul
ISBN 10: 1910164062 / ISBN 13: 9781910164068
Published by Streidl

Signed by the Photographer Paul Graham - Does Yellow Run Forever? Paul Graham?s Does Yellow Run Forever? comprises a series of photographs touching upon the ephemeral question of what we seek and value in life ? love, wealth, beauty, clear-eyed reality or an inner dream world? The work weaves in and out of three groups of images: photographs of rainbows from Western Ireland, a sleeping dreamer, and gold stores in the United States. The imagery leads us from reality to dream and illusion, between fact and spectral phenomena, each entwined one within the other. Does Yellow Run Forever? refuses to reduce the world to a knowable schema, but instead embraces the puzzle - that there are no singular meanings, direct answers, or gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Yet, there are startling visions in the everyday, be they ?beautiful? or ?ugly?, that there are dreams worth dreaming, magical scenes to be seen, and true moments of wonder to be found as we shiver the mirror of life. SBN 9781910164068 Embossed hardcover 96 pages 31 colour plates 13.5 cm x 19 cm.

Posted on September 29, 2014 by Disphotic

Does Yellow Run Forever?
Paul Graham

I’ll say it straight away, as photographers go Paul Graham ranks high in my estimations. Looking back across the span of his career in advance of writing this review acted as a reminder for me that few photographers have exhibited his diversity of subject matter, his willingness to experiment, or his knack for the manipulation and application of the unique attributes of photography and the book format. This reputation means that on the one hand I’m pretty prepared to gobble up anything new he puts out, but it also means the bar has been set pretty high, and his new work has much to live up to.

Graham’s latest book is Does Yellow Run Forever? a small volume which consists of just three types of photographs. The first photograph shows a young black woman asleep in a series of bare walled rooms, an image which is then followed by three photographs of rainbows in the west of Ireland. This pattern repeats again, then in the middle of the book a new feature is injected, three photographs of gold merchants and pawn shops in American cities. This pattern repeats once more, and then returns to the original pattern of sleeper and rainbows through to the end of the book. The final photograph shows a rainbow disappearing into the ground, the location of the proverbial pot of gold.

And that’s it, there’s no text apart from the title and a small amount of publishing information at the back. At first glance it’s disarmingly simple, even slightly disappointingly so. But then Graham’s best projects have always had this first glance simplicity about them, which on repeated inspection gives way to more and more discoveries. It’s true here as well, even if the discoveries definitely don’t feel as revelatory as in some of his previous works (and given the small size of the plates one has to hunt rather harder in the images to find them). Graham’s intended meaning is also rather harder to identify than in his previous works, perhaps partly because the total absence of text leaves our interpretations to hinge so heavily on the photographs. Thats fine with the rainbows and gold merchants which are fairly self-explanatory, but it took finding out that the sleeping woman is Graham’s partner for the book to suddenly make a whole lot more sense as a meditation on the things that keep us all running on the treadmill of life. The inexpressible loves, the awe inspiring beauties, and the fickle pots of gold.

I wouldn’t normally mention the production quality of a book except in passing, but here it deserves a little more attention. Does Yellow Run Forever? has been very consciously constructed, with its gold coloured felt like cover and debossed lettering, gold marbled end papers (reminiscent of the almost abstract photographs of clouds in Graham’s 1994 project Ceasefire) and gold edging on the pages themselves. The combination of these three elements leaves the book hovering (rather like real gold) between opulence and tackiness, with only its diminutive size and the restraint of the photography helping it to avoid plunging into the latter. That said given gold isn’t the only topic at work here it’s questionable whether the design gives the viewer certain pre-expectations about the book’s subject that perhaps colours the way they subsequently interpret the photographs. Certainly for me there was an element of that.

Does Yellow Run Forever? is undeniably slight compared to some of Graham’s previous epic works like Troubled Land or New Europe, or the ambitious multi-volume Shimmer of Possibility. It’s also I think in some ways one of Graham’s least accessible works, which is a pity because part of why I’ve always admired his photography is his knack for making difficult topics and ideas relatively accessible but without being simplistic. That said it’s also a nice little volume, which rewards repeated contact. I don’t think it’s up to his usual standard, but at the stage Graham is at in his career I can forgive him a little abtruse indulgence.

Does Yellow Run Forever? is published by MACK.

Paul Graham: ‘Does Yellow Run Forever?’

“Senami, Shambhala, New Zealand” (2011), in Paul Graham’s show, organized by Pace and Pace/MacGill.Credit2014 Paul Graham, Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery

By Karen Rosenberg
Sept. 25, 2014

A sentimental lyricism, with strong Romantic leanings, distinguishes Paul Graham’s latest show of photographs, organized by Pace and Pace/MacGill, from his social-documentary efforts. Here, his subjects include rainbow-streaked landscapes in western Ireland, pawnshop storefronts in New York’s rougher neighborhoods and tender portraits of a woman — the photographer’s partner — asleep in various rooms in New Zealand.

Mr. Graham sticks to his signature installation format, hanging prints of different sizes at varying heights. But as is rarely the case in his shows, the relationship between placement and content seems almost too obvious: The rainbows hang high on the wall, and the street views skirt the floor, with the sleepers sitting at roughly bed-height in between. The pictures of the sleeping woman, however, change the entire dynamic of the show: its emotional highs and lows, its contrast of Constable-esque countryside and urban grit. They are exceptionally lovely images, framing the sleeper’s graceful features with colorful blankets and reveling in the strange poses of deep slumber (arms swaddling head, back curling away from pillows). They give the pawnshops and rainbows a magical, somnolent quality, making them part of her dream world, even as they present their own dream of contentment.

‘Does Yellow Run Forever?’
510 West 25th Street, Chelsea
Through Oct. 4

Paul Graham: Does Yellow Run Forever? @Pace and Pace/MacGill
By Richard B. Woodward / In Galleries / September 17, 2014

JTF (just the facts): A total of 20 color photographs, alternately framed in white/gold and unmatted, and hung against white walls at different heights (from floor level to above eye level) in a series of four interconnected gallery spaces (11 walls). The prints are a mix of pigment prints and c-prints mounted on Plexiglas (15 pigment prints, 5 c-prints), made between 2011 and 2014; the show includes 1 triptych and 1 diptych (all pigment prints). Physical sizes range from as small as 32 x 43 inches to as large as 63 ½ x 96 inches, and the prints are available in editions of 5+2AP. A monograph of this body of work was recently published by MACK Books (here); it is an austere 96-page hardcover catalog (7 7/8 x 5 5/8), with 31 color plates and no essay, priced at $50. This show has been jointly organized by Pace and Pace/MacGill, and is on view at the Pace space on West 25th Street; it is not on view at the Pace/MacGill space on East 57th Street.

Comments/Context: To display photographs of rainbows in a prominent  New York gallery, an artist today had better have a good explanation. Paul Graham never provides one in this sweet, nervy, if unduly hermetic show, but he has enough confidence in himself to make pictures of this Romantic cliché in the belief that we will follow the arc of his thought wherever it leads and ultimately feel rewarded.

Before the publication of A Shimmer of Possibility in 2007, he spoke of a wish to do with photographs what Chekhov did with words: to construct stories about ordinary people out of familiar elements, adhering to the tenets of realism while altering our preconceptions of its boundaries.

Does Yellow Run Forever? (a candidate for worst title of the year) seems to be asking us to fashion a love story from three ostensibly unrelated parts. The eleven different rainbows constitute the largest group of pictures here. Five portraits of his partner, Senami, asleep in bed, and four urban landscapes of pawnshop facades, emblazoned with signs advertising that they buy gold, are the other two subjects.

Each subject was photographed in a distinct place and style. The rainbows were observed in Ireland and all have wild, outdoor settings packed with clouds, mist, greenery, rocky hills. In one Claudean landscape a tree protrudes into the foreground beside a slate-gray body of water.

In the portraits of Senami, taken during a 2011 trip to New Zealand, she is covered in brightly colored sheets or a blanket, her dark face and arms the only visible parts of her. The rooms are plain, windowless, and she is angled into one or another corner. The pawnshops are pictured head-on. All are located in the outer boroughs of New York City, where the British-born Graham now lives.

How we choose to edit these three groups of pictures into a narrative is up to us. Graham offers no manual. The duality of yellow may be one theme. It represents both the “natural” warmth of the sun’s energy and, in a darker hue, the “crass” materialist substance of gold. As such, we can sense here the adventurous life of an artist invited to travel the world is engaged in a Wagnerian struggle with the responsibilities and burden of making a living back home in Manhattan.

Rainbows are full of symbolic resonance (they appear after the storm, signaling its end) and scientific wonder. Ethereal embodiments of the color spectrum, they depend on two properties of light, reflection and refraction, and were of special interest to Descartes and Newton, as well as the scholar-poet Goethe. They are also dazzling meteorological events—and sufficiently rare, like gold—that for seconds or minutes they can turn the head of almost anyone, no matter how rushed or jaded, toward the heaven. Like photographs, rainbows are both commonplace and deeply magical.

It is brave of Graham to gamble on these responses from us. It is also borderline foolhardy, as rainbows have been thoroughly exploited to make us feel good about dozens of commercial products, everything from Lucky Charms to Ben & Jerry’s discontinued ice-cream flavor Chubby Hubby. The rainbow is now politicized, as the symbol of gay marriage, not to mention as the name for Greenpeace’s environmental attack yacht and for Jesse Jackson’s defunct presidential organization. Maybe the only subjects that Graham might have chosen that would be riskier would be sunsets and unicorns.

What saves him in this case is the absence of irony and the space he has left around the pictures for interpretation. He wants to reclaim rainbows from their debased status and he almost succeeds because they aren’t the most precious subject of these pictures. Senami is. The show revolves around her sleeping head, leaving us to ask: Is she dreaming these images? Or is he? Or are we?

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced between $35000 to $65000 each. Graham’s work has surprisingly little consistent secondary market history, so gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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