Sunday, 11 October 2015

Justin Partyka at Black Barn and Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

I could not think of a more appropriate, atmospheric venue for photographer Justin Partyka's beautiful, evocative photographs of rural photographs from Suffolk and Norfolk than the Black Barn in Cockley Cley, where a large selection of his work has been on view since mid September.

Walking from one barn room to the next, we encounter carefully observed landscapes, sensitive portraits and still lives - made since the late 1990s using a 35 mm analogue SLR camera and transparence film. Partyka explains that he still only makes his work using the analogue process. 
He studied folk art and history in Newfoundland and discovered that photography became his preferred way of capturing experiences and encounters. His intuitive way of making photographs and the care he takes to observe minute details and to get to know the people and places he photographs and connect with them make his photographic series burst with experience but also light and colours.

More of Partyka's work can be found here:

The same day, we also visited Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA, Norwich.

A version of this exhibition had previously been on view at the Barbican, where I had missed it. I couldn't think of a more beautiful way of displaying Pae White's collection of scarves designed by Vera Neuman - a trip just to see the way the scarves have been suspended in colourful rows would be worthwile. The arrangement of Martin Parr's postcard collection creates fascinating new relationships and topographies - photographs of the artists with their collections at home make possible new insights and help understand the influences of the objects on the artists' own work (e.g. Edmund de Waal's collection echoes his elegant white porcelain vessels).

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