Photography Review | SLOW | Greg Stoodley
PhotoAccess Online Gallery 16 April – 16 May 2020
After having to close its physical gallery, PhotoAccess has moved its scheduled exhibitions to a new online gallery space: http://www.gallery.photoaccess.org.au/ and expressed the hope that viewers enjoy the new format, and the works of their exhibitors who have been willing to take a leap of faith into the unknown!
The online gallery space introduces Slow, by Greg Stoodley, by saying his exhibition ‘reflects a personal take on the modernist portraits of Irving Penn. The artist has used principles and foundations he’s noticed in Penn’s portraits to create engaging, meaningful portraits of his own. These works strike one as timeless and classical, yet moreover relevant and recognisable as a contemporary photo-media practice. Stoodley is a dedicated member of PhotoAccess, and a master in the ways of platinum palladium darkroom printing, and we’re honoured he chose us to host this exhibition.’
Stoodley graduated from the Canberra Institute of Technology with an Advanced Diploma of Photography in 2014. Then he was offered a position at the Royal Australian Mint to photograph the National Coin Collection. He is currently continuing his studies at the ANU School of Art, whilst maintaining a commercial photography practice as a freelance photographer. He also has been an instructor at Photo Access, teaching short courses in Studio Photography and Art Documentation.
For any readers who do not know the work of Penn, he was one of the twentieth century’s great photographers. Despite being celebrated as one of Vogue magazine’s top photographers for more than sixty years, Penn was an intensely private man. Known for striking images and first-rate prints, he pursued his work with quiet and unfailing commitment, approaching his photography with an artist’s eye and expanding the creative prospects of the medium.
Penn was among the first photographers to pose subjects against a simple grey or white backdrop and he effectively used its simplicity. Expanding his austere studio surroundings, he constructed a set of upright angled backdrops, to form a stark, acute corner. Stoodley has utilised similar backgrounds.
When he submitted his exhibition proposal to Photo Access, Stoodley’s concept envisaged a “slowing down” using traditional techniques, studio setups, medium format cameras, black and white film, and platinum printing processes. This exhibition invites us to carefully examine the choices made by photographers today.
So, against that background, how well has Stoodley done? My answer is that, overall, he has done very well.
This exhibition comprises 18 portraits, all bar one being monochrome. For me the standouts include Waist Coat, Arnett, and Michael; all shot in a corner and all of men. Penn famously photographed the Duchess of Windsor standing in much the same type of corner.
Waist Coat © Greg Stoodley
Arnett © Greg Stoodley
Michael © Greg Stoodley
Saskia is photographed in the same corner setting but, otherwise, does not relate to the other images already mentioned. This is the one nude included in Stoodley’s exhibition. It is a fine image but does not, for me, compare with Penn’s best-known nudes which are of fleshy models, whereas Stoodley has a much slimmer subject.
Saskia © Greg Stoodley
Likewise, there is just a single colour image in Slow and I found myself asking why it was included. Penn did shoot in colour, but his strength is in his black and white work. The exhibition would have been equally strong without Dixie.
Dixie © Greg Stoodley
The catalogue essay Learning from slowness by Kate Warren, a Lecturer of Art History and Curatorship at the Australian National University, is well worth reading and there is some additional interesting behind the scenes background to the exhibition on Woodley’s own blog https://gregstoodley.com/new-blog-layout. He shows some of the prints in the wash bath, drying and laid out for observation, as well as shots of his final print products.
All artworks are for sale, in multiple editions. Some works are available as inkjet, platinum palladium prints, or silver gelatin prints. Contact email@example.com for details.