Brian Brake: Lens on the World

This photographic exhibition is currently on at Te Papa and will run through until early May 2011.  We went to see it a week or so ago now and it was quite popular so if you are wanting to see it at your leisure, I’d suggest taking an hour during the day or after work (for Wellingtonians) to do so.

It was a bit too busy to really enjoy taking in each image and giving them the attention they deserved.  If you attempted to stand for more than a few moments at each photograph you caused a tailback and the odd twitchy person felt compelled to do an overtaking manoeuvre.

If you aren’t familiar with Brian Brake you can check out his Wikipedia entry here.  What appeals to me is the fact that he was a Magnum photographer.  I saw a Magnum exhibition an eon ago and fell in love with a lot of their early images. You just know you’re on to a good thing if you are dealing with one of their co-op members.

As you would expect of a Brake exhibition it does include, arguably, his most famous or infamous image – Monsoon girl.  While it is a very lovely image I cannot honestly say that it drew my attention, other than from the sheer fact that it was so recognisable.

Amongst all of the other images, here are links to those that I actually found more satisfactory and appealing.

Sadly I don’t think the online images, even when you bring them up, are anywhere near as interesting as the full scale versions hanging in the gallery.  Still, at least I can share my choices with you thanks to the good people at Te Papa.

Of the images I listed above, I think the two that stood out the most were the image of Keith Lowe and even more so, the image of Ramses II’s feet.
The portrait is considerably larger than the online image would have you believe and the light vs dark in it is very strong and very captivating.  Plus I seem to have a thing for that old 1940s Holywood-style black and white portraiture when it’s done well.
And then there is Ramses’ big feet.  Sadly it has had to be digitally retouched so it’s not possible to know if this is truly representative of the original colours.  But I have to say the image is stunning in person.  The textures and the colours are beautiful as is the play of light vs dark, again.  It would just be nice if it was truly original in all its components.

So, the upshot…

It is a very nice exhibition if you are interested in photography.  Some images really didn’t do it for me at all and I can’t quite see why others thought they were worthy of a spot on the wall.  But, I’d still recommend going albeit during a weekday so that you can take your time and really see each image properly and from as many angles and distances as you want to.

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