Nick Hackworth

Painterly Photogrphy, Blains Fine Art

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

Ever since photography emerged painters have feared it, sensing in its ability to capture the world immediately the basis for an adequate and practical substitute for the messy and time-consuming process of applying paint to canvas. Such fears were well founded, for the debate about whether photography is art died, in practical terms, long ago, arguably to the detriment of painting. Such claims, however, are strengthened by shows like this, which brings together a number of credible inheritors to mantles of the landscape, history and portrait painters of old.

Locations briefly touched by history and long since ignored form the subject for Tomoko Yoneda’s photographs. An unremarkable courtroom assumes a new poignancy on learning it was used during the Nuremberg trials and its emptiness apes you into conjuring up ghosts of the guilty and dead. A deserted playing field transpires to be the take-off point for the last kamikaze mission of the Second World War, its current ordinariness almost an insult to the drama it once played host to.

Portraiture of an alternative kind is practised by Christopher Bucklow. On large cibachromes the silhouettes of models, filled in by myriad points of light, appear against fields of subtly varying colour. The light but attractive images are billed as personifications of the artist’s own internal drives, which is interesting as most of the models appear to be attractive young women.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series of lithographs, In Praise of Shadows, meanwhile, render the moving still, being based on long exposures of burning candles. Simple, unpretentious and aesthetic, Sugimoto’s images represent the best qualities of photography and prove that some photographers, at least, deserve their status as artists.

Until 8 December. 23 Bruton Street, W1. Tel: 020 7495 5050