21 Aug 2010 – 1 Sep 2010

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This exhibition is a showcase of contemporary portraiture which comes together as an 'examination' of the genre; the photographers who have been invited to participate all create work which offers an insight into portraiture as photographic fine art; and which highlights different approaches to an unavoidably ambiguous genre. Beso Uznadze's portraits of his fellow Georgians at home and abroad won him the portfolio category of the BJP's International Photography award and has had his work exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery. His 'Tbilisi Portraits' are a personal work, and the portraits reflect the struggle of life in his native Georgia. The Series 'The Path of Least Resistance' by London-based photographer Sam Holden is something of a typology of workers and uniforms throughout the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Osaka & Miyazaki. A portrait of place as much as portraits of individual people, his pictures define his subjects by their vocation and seek to 'identify the constant from the transient within the metropolis'. His work has won him commissions for clients including The Independent and his photographs are held in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery. Mike Chick's work has earned him awards and exhibitions from the Association Of Photographers, the IPA and The National Portrait Gallery. His series of portraits 'Heads' won him an honourable mention at the International Photography Awards in 2009, and are an antidote to clich├ęd 'straight' portraiture; Mike employed actors in the staging of these stunning large format portraits to play out character roles with the intention of luring the viewer into wanting to know more about the characters and who they may be. Staged and acted photographic portraiture is something that demands both a strong idea and sound technical skills in order to create a coherent and visually pleasing work. Victoria Hall creates photographs which do just this, and as her pictures are often self portraits as another character, she is also responsible for 'performing' the photograph and I can't help being put in mind of Cindy Sherman and Catherine Opie. Her work has been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally, and is held in the collections of The Arts Council, Chelsea College of Art, The Hiscox Collection and The ICR Collection Oslo. James Kriszyk's approach to portraiture varies; there is a touching, formal portrait of his grandmother, but this is accompanied by a series of street portraits taken without the immediate knowledge of his subjects. James wanders the streets of London, Bristol and Gloucester snapping unsuspecting passers-by. His use of flash means that his subjects are caught at the exact moment that they realise they're being photographed, and their reactions to him make for very interesting viewing, reminiscent of the guerilla street photographs of Philip-Lorca diCorcia. James Stroud's photographs all have something in common; the sitter seems to be at ease with the photographer. His subjects almost always look comfortable or even, dare I say it, happy. His portraits are a welcome antidote to a current trend of melancholic vagueness in formal fine art portraiture; in particular the image shown here; pure, unrelenting joy. His work has been shown in The National Portrait Gallery and he was also chosen for a solo exhibition at St Pancras International Station. 'I Always Knew You'd Come Back...' is a series of photographs created by Ellie Davies for the Format Film Festival 2009 and is concerned with the idea of the 'non-portrait'. Her work brings a very different conceptual approach to portraiture to this show. Ellie recently won 1st place Fine Art Landscape Award at PX3 Prix de la Photographie, Paris, and, among other awards and exhibitions will be participating in this years FOTO8 in London and the Brighton Biennial. All of the above artists' work can be seen at The Photo Gallery, Bristol 21st-31st August. There is a private viewing on Friday 20th August 6-9pm

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