Now open at The Eye Arts, operated by Wan (Wan Laryukov) is a new exhibition of photography by the magnificent Hermes Kondor. Offered under the joint title of The Museum (The Visitors), it is a collection of Hermes’ work from the physical world that could also be called Watching the Watchers.
Spread across the two floors of the gallery is a series of black-and-white photograph that offer a unique take on a visit to a museum that Hermes explains thus:
I passed a few days in the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, seeing how people react and behave in the presence of Art and Beauty. Some stop, look and enjoy it, others sit in front of it, looking deeply into the details trying to find the hidden magic and beauty of each piece of Art. Quite a lot, with ‘phone in hand take photos of every work, keeping it in a memory card for later enjoyment.
– Hermes Kondor
The gallery is home to what is regarded as one of the most important private collections of art in the world, that of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian. Comprising some 6,000 pieces covering 5,000 of human civilisation, it includes 2D and 3D art representing Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Islamic Oriental, Armenian, and Oriental history, as well as westen art which in includes sculptures, the art of the book, paintings and one of the most extensive collections or pieces by the French glass artist René Lalique, from whom Gulbenkian personally commissioned 140 individual items.
Given this, the halls of the museum offer a considerable amount to see and appreciate – and, as Hermes notes, captivate those who visit. As such, it is a rich source of material for the skilled photographer, and Hermes demonstrates this to the full in the images gathered in this collection.
These are a remarkable set of studies in human nature and behaviour, the use of monochrome giving them a timeless edge that perfectly fits the historical context of the museum and the collection within it.
The richness of human interactions – direct and indirect – found within these images cannot be overstated. Within them we find multiple expressions of how we interact with art and one another; from the unconscious use of stance – leaning forward or backwards whilst studying a painting – to the close inspections Hermes mentions and the manner in which phones are being used; even the manner in which some interactions can take place seemingly without awareness for those around us, caught as we are within our own social group, is perfectly reflected in some.
For me, what makes these pictures especially captivating is the fact that they have often been taken without the awareness of the subjects within them. Thus, there is a natural vigor about them that gives the museum itself a vitality of life. In addition, this approach allows the pictures to be presented as a most unique series of studies into the human body as a statement of art.
As well as the individual images being available for purchase, Hermes has also collected them together as a book that can be purchased at the reception desk on the lower floor, allowing visitors to keep a memento of the exhibition.
- The Eye Arts (Gigli Waves, rated Moderate)