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ALEXANDER BRATTELL | NEW PHOTOGRAPHIC EDITIONS

November 16th 2012
The first thing that strikes me about Alexander Brattell’s recent photographs is the amazing amount of light that pours into each image. Crisp and clean in contrast to the dramatic shadows it creates, as a self-confessed sun worshipper this remarkable gleam transports me to a happier place, a holiday perhaps, triggering an overwhelming sense of calm.

The new monochrome prints are from Alexander’s last two series’, which are titled ‘Tupla’, which refers to materialised thought form in Tibetan mythology, and ‘Qualia’, a philosophical term meaning ‘the nature of experience’, and this brings another dimension to these observations from every-day life that are brought to our attention. Brattell’s intention is to document the ‘sensation of seeing’, and with his photographs he attempts to fix moments of heightened awareness in search for resonance beyond subject matter. Like many artists, he sees his works as an enquiry into a language that’s purely visual, that has the potential to describe sensations that words struggle to convey. Singly, they work as visual poems and sometimes as evocations of place; in a series, they take on a narrative quality which is highly open to interpretation by the viewer, and I like this a lot.

Unlike many photographers these days, Alexander continues to use traditional techniques, shooting on negative film and hand printing each image himself in a darkroom to make silver gelatin prints, and the process of making work in this way - the transmission of light, the analogue journey via the latent image to the final print - remains for him the most effective simulacra. Having focussed on photography myself for the final two years of my Fine Art degree, I can completely relate to this; for me this traditional printing process was an art form in itself and the most exciting part was seeing the images emerge in the developing tray.

Composition is equally important to Brattell and he has a personal discipline of only ever printing the full frame of any image he takes and never cropping; if a negative doesn’t work as a whole, it’s discarded. Again this is going back to the roots of photography where the creative process begins through the lens (and also something I’m a personal fan of). In his images he confirms this with the black key line - the perimeter of the negative - which surrounds each image.

For me the key image from the new series is Ashmolean, March 2010, taken at the world’s first university museum in Oxford from which the piece takes its name. Void of the stark light and shadows I was describing earlier as seen in works such as Los Feliz, August 2011 and Orange Grove Boulevard, April 2012, the light in this piece is a subtle, gentle glow, and the contrast here is instead between this soft light and the straight angular lines of the staircase. With its perfect composition, this minimal scene has what I describe as a ‘futuristic sixties’ feel about it; very eye-catching, and one of those photographs I wish I’d taken myself.

See more of Alexander Brattell’s works online here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
ALEXANDER BRATTELL
Los Feliz, August 2011
 
 
ALEXANDER BRATTELL ALEXANDER BRATTELL
Orange Grove Boulevard, April 2012 Ashmolean, March 2010
 
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