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ALEXANDER BRATELL | NEW HAND PRINTED SILVER GELATINE EDITIONS

August 15th 2014
Alexander Brattell’s monochrome works beautifully document moments of our everyday lives that often go unnoticed. Angie introduces six new works below.

When I first became aware of Alexander Brattell’s photographic works fourteen years ago, the fact that they were presented as handmade silver gelatins printed from negatives wasn’t particularly unusual. Digital photography had been around for a while, especially in the professional field, but the printing and marketing of signed and numbered digital limited editions was still a fairly new concept and one that took quite a few years from then to establish properly.

Today it’s a lot rarer to see artists and photographers hand printing their editions, and is something that’s often only really seen in galleries such as Hamiltons or Michael Hoppen who specialise in high end photographic works. So it’s refreshing that one of our photographers has stood by his preferred way of working, against all odds - many of the companies that produced photographic paper have now closed - and continues to hand print his negative film to create what I myself have always viewed as pieces of art in themselves, regardless of what is printed on the paper.

A prolific photographer, Alexander showed me a series of his recently shot photos, and for now I’ve selected six that I felt worked well as standalone images but also together, should a collector wish to have more than one. Each presented in Brattell’s uniform size of 20 x 29 cm (on what used to be referred to as 11 x 14 - referencing its size in inches), these works tell a story. Although they were shot at different times in different parts of the world - some in London, others in the States and a few around the area in the south of the UK where the photographer now resides - for me they tell a tale about those little things that happen around us in our everyday lives; snippets of beauty that would pass us by if artists such as Alexander didn’t bring them to our attention.

My favourite of the new pieces is Los Angeles, August 2013. At first relatively abstract, on closer inspection its clear this is a mirror hanging on a post, reflecting what fills the space behind the photographer. For me this piece is simple but highly effective; a space within a space. The majority of the picture sits in the shadow and its difficult to make our the shapes that are slightly out of focus in the background, and so our attention is drawn to what’s reflected in the mirror, apart from this is also quite ambiguous. Is it the coastline? An open field? I find the mystery of this image very calming and easy to relate to. It could be anywhere, and then you acknowledge the title and realise the unrecognisable location is not at all where you expect it to be. This is a fascinating piece that I like a lot.

Other observations Brattell presents us with include a single, healthy-looking palm tree on Palmetto Drive, August 2013 and a boy photographing a Michael Heizer installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 6th Street, August 2013 (Levitated Mass, Michael Heizer, LACMA), where Brattell finds the lines in the ground paired with the strong light of the Californian sun and the silhouette of the small child more interesting than the work of art itself, which is cropped out of the top of the frame. In Westferry Rd, July 2014, the natural formation of the clouds provides a perfect balance to the geometric shapes that form the building below; the presence of the lone figure providing us information on scale and to some extent, the city location.

Another favourite of mine is Oxford Street, January 2013, which features an electric doorbell with seven different shaped arrows pointing to it that have been hand drawn onto the wall. A light-hearted piece that has an element of humour, for me it’s a reminder that we are all human and sometimes get so wrapped up in what’s going on around us that we don’t see what’s right in front of our eyes unless it’s pointed out. Luckily we have Alexander Brattell to do this for us for now.

See the collection of Brattell’s limited edition photographic prints here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
ALEXANDER BRATTELL
Los Angeles, August 2013
 
 
ALEXANDER BRATTELL ALEXANDER BRATTELL
Oxford Street, January 2013. Westferry Rd, July 2014
 
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