Ian Talbot: Retrospective – Construction 2 :: Constructions
Chapter 30 of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.
Construction 2 :: Constructions
© Ian Talbot
“This urge of mine to supersede pigment with light has its counterpart in a drive to dissolve solid volume into defined space.” Laszlo Moholy Nagy
Constructivism was an art movement that started in Russia in the early years of the 20th Century. It grew out of Cubism allied with a geometric vocabulary based on the Suprematist art of Malevich and El Lissitzky. Its most famous exponents were Rodchenko and Tatlin. The stylistic influence of the movement, with its emphasis on a rational, materialist and utilitarian approach, was also greatly felt at the Bauhaus in Germany, and can be seen especially in the work of Laszlo Moholy Nagy.
My earlier work with grids using simple overlapping shapes has inevitably led to a more obviously Constructivist approach as in the piece here. The connection with Nagy is made quite plain with its use of the camera as a drawing tool and its concern with issues of form and light. The emphasis here is also on flatness which seems entirely appropriate for a medium which in one sense, before it is anything, is no more than an arrangement of tones on a flat surface. This sense of “flatness” is slightly relieved, however, by the play of light and shadow on the less than totally flat grids depicted.
By anchoring these images in previous art movements I have hoped, probably still in vain, to emphasise their formal nature; by explaining my motivations to remove the temptation in the viewers mind to speculate that there may be more than meets the eye, to project their own issues and concerns onto them. It has been for me a matter of some frustration that the more “bland” I make my images, the more I explain, the more some viewers are inclined to “see” in them meaning that was never intended. It doesn’t exactly anger me and I can hardly prevent it but, to repeat, my intent here is with matters of intellect not expression. I do not seek to engage in some form of collaboration with the viewer.
I think that often a viewer may seek to “see” in a piece of art a mirror to their own concerns and issues and feel that, in spite of the artist’s intentions, a work “speaks” to them, and them only, in a totally personal way. To put it plainly, they don’t look at a piece, they “project” onto it. In that context I rather prefer a “That looks nice, I like it…” comment from someone with no artistic pretensions whatsoever. If I wanted my work to be a vehicle for the personal daydreams of the viewer I would show them “Rorschach Blots” and have done with it.