Nick Hackworth

Thomas Joshua Cooper: Point of No Return, Haunch of Venison

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

The combination of complexity, depth and beauty in his work gives Thomas Joshua Cooper just claim to being one of the world’s greatest living landscape photographers.

American born, and now 57, he has worked and taught in Glasgow since the Seventies and operates under bizarre, self-imposed restrictions. In 1968 he made, and has stuck to, a vow to make art only with the particular 106-year-old camera he was using at the time, only make images outdoors and only ever make one image in any one place.

Most of the images in this show are of similar places — shorelines observed from clifftops. The shore is that of the Atlantic Ocean and the photographs part of an ambitious project, started a decade ago, to map the coast of the Atlantic basin, from the northernmost point of North America to the southernmost point of South America, and from the southernmost point of Africa to the northernmost point of Europe.

It is a subtle and oblique rumination on the process of globalisation, begun half a millennium ago, now creating a deep homogeneity in human affairs.

The sameness of the images is part of the point. Joshua Cooper’s art is heavily influenced by abstract painting and so there are only subtle differences between the works — the pattern of the waves, the formation of the rocks. This, Joshua Cooper implies, stands as a metaphor for the strange combination of uniqueness and similarity manifest in all of us.

His work is one that requires time to appreciate. Its aesthetic qualities and meanings intensify with prolonged exposure; in some small way, it stands against the oppressive, modern demand for cultural experiences to be created with instant consumption in mind.

Until 28 October. Information: 020 7495 5050