Opening on Saturday October 13th, 2018 on the mezzanine level at Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist) is an exhibition of photography by oYo (Oyona). Offering a mix of landscape and avatar studies, it encompasses a sublime sense of “natural” photography that has enormous depth and, in the case of many of the images, considerable narrative substance.
For the exhibition, the mezzanine area has been converted so as to give a feeling of being outdoor – almost somewhere very close to the sea or up on moorland. Open sky forms the walls and ceiling, while the floor is a mix of scrub grass and shrubs through which sharp tongues of rock poke forth.
Within this space 22 photographs are arranged, mixing monochrome with full colour with the majority presented in softer tones and finishes that adds an extra dimension to them. What is striking about many of the photos is oYo’s use of camera placement and angle; the construction of many of the avatar-centric images are such that while carefully composed and comported, they actually have the sense of being spur-of-the-moment shots, pictures captured through happenstance rather than design and pose.
This is immediately evident on arriving on the mezzanine. To the left of the entrance sit What Do You Expect?, Take Care and Emo (all seen in the top image). All three have been composed to present a specific focus and emotional response. But through the use of lighting, shadow, angle, soft focus, it is as if each was caught entirely by chance: a camera being used and raised in mid-conversation or when the subject was least expecting it.
Thus the story within each of them becomes broader, encompassing the “person behind the lens” as much as the subject and setting: what was going on immediately before the picture was taken? What words were being exchanged? were both parties in Take Care aware that this was perhaps the last photo one would take of the other, a natural falling of shadow as the image was taken now serving to add to the stirring of emotion and memory whenever the taker of the photograph looks at it?
The landscape photos offered in the exhibition demonstrate a similar seasoned and skilled eye for composition, colour, tone and framing, all of which generates a narrative well beyond the photo itself. This is again evident from the very first image seen on entering: Le Rivage (again seen in the top image, on the left). A marvellous close-up of cormorants offered in monochrome and soft focus, the framing perfectly captures the moment at which some of the birds start to demonstrate agitation, wings spreading perhaps aware of the not-too-distant photographer. But so does it bring to mind the story of how it came to be taken: the careful manoeuvring downwind of the birds, edging over sand and rock or through wet marsh, constantly aware that push things too far, and the birds will take flight; then the use of a telephoto lens, perhaps crouched uncomfortably…
Time and again this storytelling comes to the fore in so many ways: the happy-go-lucky, out-of-the-window “holiday” shot of Saint-Martin, to the lonely beauty and pathos – again both in front of and behind the lens of Tout Refaire (second image from top in this article).
These are all images that are rich in life and emotion as well as offering an unforced guide to the art and artistry of photography. Most definitely an exhibition to be seen. The formal opening will take place at 13:00 SLT on the afternoon of Saturday, October 13th, and the exhibition itself should be open through the first half of November.
- Club LA and Gallery (Amano, rated: Moderate)