PHO703: Spring Assessment Period


My first visit to PhotoLondon. I used the virtual tour previously. That was good but left me slightly disorientated. Nowadays, I appreciate physical attendance perhaps as testament to increasing awareness of the making, purpose and the impact of the exhibition.

It was absorbing to witness the variety of display methods as well as the seeing montages and other types of work. No doubt my time will come so a chance to think ahead.

On the day, and in terms of an icon of photography, it was Ellen Carey and her talk on the Avant Garde that resonated strongly with me.

Socially, the event was very rewarding. As usual I was not backwards in striking up conversations where appropriate and then in a flood of happenings, met a photographic colleague and then fellow student with family member, all whilst exchanging business cards with an artist photographer.

Highlights were numerous, especially as I carried with me ideas and artist information from earlier times. This expanded of course. I enjoyed Shore, and saw displays of Matthews, Davey, Fenton, Tripe, et al.

There was a noticeable interest in black and white and vintage prints amongst those attending.


Sorolla lost out to the emerging Modernist movement and towards the end the growing interest in Picasso.

Many paintings are of family, of the beach and later of reflections on water.

From a critical perspective, I noted that given that painting is an additive process, one portrait had cropped the top of the subjects head. In another portrait an ear appeared to have at least a stop to much brightness.

The paintings are of impressionist style with dynamic elements in a number of them. A stronger sun in Spain proves advantageous yet at the same time shadows can be deep contrast. Where the camera would lack the dynamic range of the eye, the painters vision and technique would win over.

I’m reminded of the long sitting times for subjects in paintings, compared to the much faster exposure of film or today he digital sensor.

I felt a sense of calm and warmth from the paintings. It was an excellent experience to contrast and compare painting with the photograph. Although Sorolla was not a portrait artist as such, portraits were a necessary means of income.

The paintings are on loan to the National Gallery and as such cannot be photographed even for reference.

I’d not heard of this Spanish painter before and so welcomed the viewing.

Sorolla painted that which appeared before him, and was not quite in the right era or did not keep up with fashion is painting and so was overtaken by others. So you make the very best of work and not achieve full recognition.

I will take the opportunity to attend the exhibition again.

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