Artist Walter Hugo is entirely self taught. His background of studying geology, physics and documentary film making undoubtedly stood him in good stead when he decided to teach himself ambrotype photography after a chance find of a locket on a market stall with an ambrotype photo in it. In the process he invented a method that exposes images directly on to walls and floors. Obviously each image is a unique one-off which makes them all the more remarkable. On display at Shizaru is a series of images developed directly on the studio walls of his then studio in Hackney; another series has been printed directly on glass which adds to the ephemeral and mystical impression. Please allow yourself plenty of time when you go, this is not one of those quick flick of the eyes and then dash exhibitions!
The images included here are part of Hugo’s ongoing magnum opus, Reflecting The Bright Lights, capturing 50 of who he considers to be London’s creative luminaries. Soulful and somewhat introspective, each appears to be caught in a contemplative moment.
His anthology Developing Shadows is also on display. By painting sliver nitrate emulsion and then applying various chemicals that bleed from the image, Hugo blends photography and painting. The works are slightly over-exposed, giving the sensation that the subject is emerging from the shadows of the building, a ghostlike apparition.
And his latest series, Theories, twenty life sized glass plate portraits of models that adhere to ideals of a Classical beauty. In this age of raging photoshop it is delightful to see these landscapes of flesh as they are. It allows the models to retain their personality as well. For this series, Hugo scaled up the medium, building a room-sized camera containing a lens from 1890 and a laboratory within, thus capturing a very detailed image of the skin. Who’d have thought blowing up pores, (dis)colorations and imperfections would actually result in something so beautiful?
Walter Hugo | A Moment in an Instant World
Till 24th March, 2012
112 Mount Street
London W1K 2TU
Words by Anna Bang
TagsAlice Dellal, anna bang, Charlie Casely-Hayford, Gary Card, hannah marshall, Shizaru, Walter Hugo,