The June Kelly Gallery opens its 2022-23
season with Metropolis, the gallery’s eighth exhibition of
photography by Charles Martin – views that articulate chance
bracketing of architectural form, scale, and milieu, will open at
166 Mercer Street, on Thursday, September 8. The
work will remain on view through October 18.
Photographer Charles Martin, also filmmaker
and writer, says, Metropolis is drawn from such cities as New
York, São Paulo, Paris and Montréal, the emphasis is a general sense
rather than an explicit essay about any particular one.
Daylight, twilight, and electricity
luminously shape and paint the cities. Expanses,
constructed or patches of nature, are equally urban, and in evidence
at ground level and from high perches.
Martin says, the views in Metropolis,
as in Ferryboat, an earlier exhibition, are less a document
than an evocation, an essay, a “think piece” about city, but not
enclosed by it, and fascinated by many elements. “Multiple
activity, sometimes subterranean, identifies cities and the people
who reside and work in them.
Nevertheless, writes Martin, the touchstone
kernel and outstanding sign of Metropolis, visually, is the
blend or interruption of architectural form and scale set
comfortably or awkwardly in nature, if
only under the sky or amid a body of water (Edifice Canyon,
2022). Structures, worn or new, seen
directly or in reflection are, like drawings or sculpture, lines and
shapes aligned and shuffled, brought together, and sighted by eyes
and lenses to be affixed, sometimes, in film, in pixels or memory.
In the lyrics of the song, “Concrete Jungle,” Bob
Marley wonders what the city has “got for me now?”
In the photos of Metropolis, forms of vision are
a thing that the city has got. Henri Cartier-Bresson often referred
to geometry, so evident in his photos, as essential to visual art.
People delight in such form.
While Martin says his photographs are usually
unplanned and carried out quickly, the sense of instantaneous and
deep connection with subject is apparent. His
strong perceptiveness results in distinctive photographic accounts.
Martin’s vision and ingenious
process, rich in narrative potential, mysterious and intuitive are
grounded in the everyday reality of the subject.
Occasionally, writes Martin, a dream or a
nightmare is concocted from concrete, glass, metal, water, sky, and
light. Alfred Stieglitz,
photographer, and advocate of art was famously appalled at the idea
that the power of his photography came from its subject matter.
Stieglitz wanted to show that photography could be
abstract and more or less free of reference. Reformulated,
the thought might be that sight, itself, can ultimately be the
primary subject. (Triplex, 2022)
Martin lives and works in New York.
He is a graduate of Yale University, where he received
a master’s degree and a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese.
He studied photography at the Yale
School of Art with Thomas Roma and JoAnn Walters.
Martin’s photographs have been shown in numerous
one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States, in
Europe and in South America. His
work is included in many private and public collections, among them
The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of the City of New York,
The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli
Art Museum at Rutgers University, and the Walter Heun Collection.