The Best of Photo London 2016 | reviews, news & interviews
The Best of Photo London 2016
The Best of Photo London 2016
Our very own lensman gives the verdict on the UK's biggest photography fair
Asking theartsdesk's theatre photographer to review Photo London is like asking a car mechanic to review the London Motor Show. "Remember the big picture!" I kept telling myself as I tried to deconstruct the lighting of a particular shot or measure the depth of field.
And big picture it certainly is. Now in its second year at Somerset House, Photo London aims to be the best photographic fair in the world – "the first photographic fair of the smartphone generation" – with over 80 galleries and 480 artists exhibiting. The exhibitors are a selection of London galleries alongside a range of international galleries and have been left to curate their own shows after discussion with the organisers to ensure a reasonable variety.
Somerset House is a labyrinth and despite improved signage your reviewer got lost
Beyond the individual galleries there are interviews, guided tours and exhibitions, some of which are the results of competitions. There are satellite events all over London. Don McCullin, the "2016 Photo London Master of Photography", has a mini retrospective – many brooding images of poverty and actual or impending violence. Sergey Chilikov shows Russian private life from the Nineties – wonderful faces in dated and often blurred colour – and Craigie Horsfield shows his massive monochrome portraits.
Somerset House is a labyrinth and despite improved signage your reviewer got lost. There are advantages to wandering about. At the end of a corridor I ran into Richard Nicholson’s charming images of London’s last darkrooms: yesterday’s technology at the point of extinction. I also came across prints for sale at prices which would buy you a flat in, say, Hastings. If you get really lost, you end up in the Deadhouse and watch Walter & Zoniel creating the "largest tintype in the world made as a live event."
And there is much more besides. If you like photography, here it is in plenty. Maybe there could be more new commissioned work; maybe there might be more celebration of photography as an immediate recording medium as well as an art form – more press photography for example – but it is great to see the scale and ambition of this show. Catch it while you can.
- Photo London at Somerset House until 22 May
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge
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