AboutHay Hill Gallery will be presenting a double exhibition this Spring, featuring the photographs of Marco Sanges and Alexey Lyubimkin.
Sanges is a fantastic storyteller, creating his photographic narratives as cinematic sequences. As we peer through his silvered lens, the distortion suggests that all is meaningless and nothing has purpose. Within his surreal walls, logical arguments fall into nonsense; eloquent speech collapses into gobbledegook and the inevitable outcome is silence. As a result, the subjects are trapped in cruelly endless mimes, menaced relentlessly by incomprehensible outside forces. Borrowing stylistically from the silent movies of the 1920s and 30s, Sanges' players gesture helplessly from the other side of their screens. Aghast, afraid, astonished, their expressions are enormously exaggerated.
Darkly enchanting, these photographs are touching in their depiction of human frailty and strength. Once the metaphysical rug is whipped out from under your feet, you are forced to come to a conclusion, make your own mistakes and see the funny side. Suddenly, you too are in the frame, rooted to the spot, wildly gesturing and making peculiar faces. Afterwards you might scratch your head and wonder what just happened, but Sanges is a magician, an unhinged puppet master with a camera. As you step back out into the June afternoon, come rain or shine, you may feel you've a touch of sunstroke- but it's only your mind playing tricks on you again.
Having been unsettled by Sanges, you may wish to reorient yourself in the photographs of the architect Alexey Lyubimkin. These are love letters to the cities he encounters, unfolding the lines of trees and buildings as though they were blueprints of the original city design. His lens is a magnifying glass that scrutinises the things our naked eye cannot see, as he presents the ever changing landscapes.
Lyubimkin's city visions take on the old technique of tinting, using a modern myriad of solero hues. His metallic rain falls in pins and needles over smoothly inked barcodes, and finally slips off the page. Printer margins drag their heels in orange and pink whilst clouds change like the Northern Lights or a heat sensitive T-shirt. This artist's preoccupation with colour emphasises the importance of noticing beauty even to the rat race during rush hour. If we were to look up from the pavement for just one moment, we might spot a streetlamp glancing off the gutter at a perfect angle, or see how branches transform the sky into a stained glass window.
The black and white compositions are the artist's poetic views of Italy, from the morning sun on vineyards and cypresses, to the long tall shadows of the afternoon where dark trees and bright clouds borrow each other's airy shapes. Heatwaves and summer storms give way to the far off scattered lights of a village in the evening. Whilst these works are graphically different to the cityscapes, the artist's heightened sense of wonder is maintained even in the idyllic.
Whether we love or hate where we live, we subconsciously give ourselves context by our perceived relationship to it. Working out how it all fits together, and then how to live within that space brings a sense of belonging. If we are not present to our surroundings at all then we will always feel at odds- and be homesick wherever we go. The artist gets us standing in place to marvel at those shapes around us, and find out our personal geometry. Rolling out the bridges and streets under our feet like carpets, Lyubimkin invites us in to become an important part of the picture, and to finally feel like we're home.