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"Arnis Balcus - Naked: Recent Photographs by Young Latvian Photographer"
2005-04-14 until 2005-05-14
Matthew Bown Gallery
UK United Kingdom
Arnis Balcus is a young Latvian photographer whose off-kilter images of extreme intimacy illuminate, in touching and sometimes whimsical detail, the social and sexual life of pan-European youth.
Casually posed (if posed is not too ambitious a word) portraits, still-lifes, and above all images of sex, are shot as it were 'from the hip'. They explore, analyse and celebrate the "snapshot culture" which, as the critic Hanno Soans has pointed out, is now a part of urban communications.
And yet they transcend not only any element of seediness but also the formal limitations of the snapshot. They are gorgeous essays in form, light and colour that refer back to photographic verities established by the great masters of the twentieth century.
This is not to say that Balcus's work is unproblematic. Is narcissism a problem? Well, at at least it's self-mocking and not the "pathetic sincerity" of Tracy Emin. Voyeurism? Balanced perhaps by fragile truths about the body, sexuality and the innocence we all share.
The title of the show, Naked, refers not just to the nudity of many of the subjects, but to Balcus's innate rawness of vision.
This is the artist's first exhibition in London, following solo shows in several European countries in recent years.