Paul Graham

24 Feb - 21 Apr 2012

© Paul Graham
E53rd Street, 12th April 2010, 9.45.55 am, 2010
pigment print mounted on Dibond
56" x 74‐1/4" (142.2 cm x 188.6 cm), diptych, each
The Present
24 February - 21 April, 2012

The Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery are honored to debut Paul Graham’s newest body of work and his first exhibition in the United States since 2009. Paul Graham: The Present follows the artist’s critically acclaimed series a shimmer of possibility, which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Pace and Pace/MacGill announced joint representation of the artist last year. The exhibition will be on view at 545 West 22nd Street from February 24 through April 21, 2012. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, February 23 from 6 to 8 P.M.

The Present (2011) is Graham’s third body of work in a trilogy that includes a shimmer of possibility (2004–2006) and American Night (1998–2002). MACK will publish a 114-page hardcover monograph of the new work in conjunction with the exhibition.

Paul Graham: The Present features sixteen diptych and two triptych photographic works taken from life in contemporary New York. Shot in a manner that both honors and updates the legacy of great street photography—by such luminaries as Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand—this new series radiates with the frenetic energy of a city in constant motion, with its perpetual shifts in awareness of people and place. Graham, however, radically amplifies these fleeting intersections by bringing them to us complete with their double: twin images separated only by the briefest fraction of time. These sibling photographs allow us to see the moment and its doppelganger simultaneously arriving, as time unspools before our eyes.

Coupled together, the images reveal unexpected and serendipitous affinities from moment to moment. In one diptych a woman walks confidently down the street, only to trip and fall in the next instant. In another, a man with an eye patch navigates his way down a crowded street; seconds later he is replaced by a businessman with an exaggerated wink. Happenstance collides with fate, fortune with misfortune, as the ebb and flow of the city twists and spirals in a mesmerizing dance. Graham reinforces the power of these unstaged vignettes by installing the large-scale works just a few inches off the floor (the diptychs measure more than twelve-feet wide and the triptychs more than eighteen-feet wide). The effect is all consuming, drawing the viewer into the action as it unfolds, where subtle shifts in focus transform the moment and our consciousness of it.

Graham’s previous series a shimmer of possibility and American Night reflect his experiences across the breadth of America, while The Present is a paean to New York City, his hometown. All three bodies of work reflect upon contemporary America, but also explore the medium of photography as means of artistic expression. With American Night, a visual commentary on the social fracture of the United States, Graham pushes light to an extreme, intentionally over exposing his images to create blindingly white scenes bleached of nearly all color and detail, rendering near-invisible the dispossessed people and landscape. In a shimmer of possibility, Graham examines the compression of time in photography, slowing the cognitive process down as a way of recognizing the profound beauty in life’s overlooked moments. In Graham’s newest work, a sense of consciousness becomes the dominate theme, expressed through highly specific focus and the heightened awareness it renders.

a shimmer of possibility and American Night have been the subject of seventeen collective solo exhibitions worldwide. In 2003, American Night went on view at PS1, Contemporary Art Center, New York. a shimmer of possibility debuted in the U.S. at the MoMA, New York, in 2009, and subsequently toured through London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, and Madrid. Graham was the subject of a major traveling survey of his work, co-organized in 2009 by the Museum Folkwang, Essen (2009), and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011). Paul Graham: Photographs 1981–2006 was also shown at the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2009–10). steidlMACK published a 376-page hardcover book in association with the survey. Paul Graham: The Present will travel to Carlier│Gebauer, Berlin, in April, and Le Bal, Paris, in October.

Photographic books are an integral part of Graham’s practice. He has published a dedicated monograph for nearly every series, most famously his twelve-volume collection for a shimmer of possibility, created in collaboration with steidlMACK. This book was honored with the 2011 Paris Photo Book Prize for the most important photography book published in the past fifteen years.

Paul Graham (b. 1956, United Kingdom) is a British photographer living and working in New York City. In 1981, Graham completed his first acclaimed work, by photographing life along England’s primary arterial road in a series of color photographs entitled A1: The Great North Road. His use of color film in the early 1980s, at a time when British photography was dominated by traditional black-and-white social documentary, had a revolutionizing effect on the genre. Soon a new school of photography emerged with artists like Martin Parr, Richard Billingham, Simon Norfolk, and Nick Waplington making the switch to color. In 2011, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired the complete set of prints from The Great North Road, the original set Graham had used to print his first book in 1983.

Over the past three decades, Graham has travelled widely, producing twelve distinct bodies of work that include Beyond Caring (1984–1985), Troubled Land (1984–1986), New Europe (1986–1992), Television Portraits (1986–1990), Empty Heaven (1989–1995), Ceasefire (6–8 April 1994), End of the Age (1996–1998), Paintings (1997–1999), American Night (1998–2002), a shimmer of possibility (2004–2006), Films (2011), and The Present (2011). He has been the subject of more than eighty solo exhibitions worldwide. In 2001, photographs from Graham’s series Paintings were included in the group exhibition Plateau of Humankind as part of the 49th Venice Biennale.

Paul Graham’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art; Tate Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; European Parliament, Brussels; Arts Council of Great Britain, London; Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; Musee de la Photographie, Belgium; Museum Communali, Italy; National Museum of Photography, United Kingdom; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Winnipeg Art Museum, Manitoba, as well as in private collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Tags: Richard Billingham, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Paul Graham, Simon Norfolk, Martin Parr, Garry Winogrand