Patricia Low Contemporary is pleased to announce To Leave A Light Impression, a solo exhibition of photographs and sculptures by Darren Almond.
The concept of time runs throughout Almond’s work as a slippery constant: past-present-future ever oscillating, with controlled technical precision, into the realm of the truly wondrous. In his hauntingly beautiful photographs, geography too plays its part, as primordial stage, the silent witness of history’s uncertain evolution: its remotest locations the devotional sites of Almond’s idiosyncratic rituals, where scenes are shot at precise moments before sun rise, full moon, or the equinox. With To Leave A Light Impression, Almond presents recent works from his ongoing Night + Fog, Civil Dawn and The Five Pure Lights series: their phantasmagorical effects – achieved through elaborate techniques of time lapse and manipulated exposure – entwine the transient imprints of modern collective consciousness with nature’s enduring mystical aura.
Night + Fog’s barren apocalyptic landscapes were found near the forbidden Siberian towns of Norilsk and Monchegorsk once fearsome gulags, now toxic-hazard nickel mine: acid rain has laid the forests to waste. The ethereal glow that emanates from his new Civil Dawn series, however, is a purely natural phenomena captured in Monet’s Giverny garden at the close of night. Shot within a time frame minutes before sunrise on what is now an extinct large format Polaroid: being in part a wet process, the image emulsion is squeezed through rollers creating one-of-a-kind
Impressionist tributes, which are then scanned and enlarged. The Five Pure Lights takes its title from the earth’s elements as venerated in Tantric Buddhism: the fragmented abstractions of dancing spectral hues are in fact Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind – their concept developed from Almond’s 2006 film, In The Between, about the China-Tibet high speed rail link and its humanitarian implications.
Almond’s intensive travel-orientated processes are replicated through the aesthetics of his sculptural works – trains especially: as the journey mode of choice for romantics, technophiles, and extinct industrial revolutionaries. Cast in aluminium and bronze and painted in traditional railway livery, Towards Tomorrow is a replica trainplate; produced at source by British Rail, they are names given to a train and emblazoned on the side of every mainline locomotive in England. Fanciful and optimistic, Almond’s text is a wistful paradox, its future-thrust message belied by nostalgia. Made from the generic black flip-panel clocks found in all British railway stations, his accompanying Perfect Time Divided sculptures, too, suggest platforms, waiting, and the call of distant places. Assembled in simplified forms, like symbolic totems or alchemic signs and charts (or humorous minimalism), their numbers have been modified, transforming time itself into an ever-updating undecipherable language. Time, for Almond, is reassuringly abstract no matter how logical you make it sound. Set to change precisely minute by minute with Cage-like rigor, Almond’s nonsensical scripts possess a captivating power: a forgotten tongue, or ancient wisdom, an innate universal communication, unfolding – quite literally – with perfunctory mechanics, their cryptic messages persisting with slow-time authority.