The photography of Chris Corson-Scott is masterly in a very quiet way. At twenty-nine, he already has a serious body of work to his credit -- not a large body, that would be asking too much, but work of an extremely high level as regards that elusive marker, "quality." Take for example a recent photograph, "Rain Over a Development on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula" (2014). Everything about it seems exactly right: the viewpoint, which brilliantly includes the red and white traffic cone at the left, effectively nailing down the left-hand margin of the image (important, because the drift of the image is to the right); the registration of the light (suggesting late afternoon, though in fact it is earlier, following a rainstorm, with a drizzle still falling), the clouds, the surface of the water to the right reflecting roseate sky (more water beyond the right-hand edge, of course, but the need to include the traffic cone meant that it had to be elided); the choice of distance, neither near nor far, from the cerulean excavator anchoring the composition even as it sits temporarily abandoned just below the centre of the image; four mysterious dark fences running across the grass beyond the excavator from left to right, far to near (slow to declare themselves but providing an element of structure that turns out to be indispensable); trees, houses, a further development (a town or suburb), low irregular hills along the horizon; and in the near foreground the sharp-focus clarity of the road-in-the-making waiting for its tarmac as well as of the ungraded earth to the right. The sense of detail, too, is superb, yielding a wealth of visual and textural information that somehow never swamps the sense of a calm and confident formal imagination organizing the picture as a whole simply by the power of an intelligent, refined, and mature artist's gaze.
- Michael Fried
Michael Fried is J.R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities and the History of Art at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. He is a contributor to Artforum, and the author of numerous books including Art and Objecthood; Absorption and Theatricality; Manet’s Modernism; Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before; and Four Honest Outlaws: Sala, Ray, Marioni, Gordon.
Chris Corson-Scott lives and works in Auckland New Zealand. He has exhibited widely in Auckland, and internationally. Selected exhibitions include Kinder’s Presence (2013-14) at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki; History in the Taking: 40 Years of PhotoForum (2014) at The University of Auckland’s Gus Fisher Gallery; My Place (2013) at the Pingyao International Photography Festival, China; Recent Auckland Photography (2013) at North Art; and solo exhibitions at Trish Clark Gallery, New Photographs (2014-15); the artist-run space Snake Pit, New Photographs (2012); and Photographs (2011) at Wallace Art Centre. With art historian Edward Hanfling, he is the co-author of Pictures They Want to Make: Recent Auckland Photography (Photoforum, Auckland: 2013).
And here is an excerpt from my own review of 'Pictures they want to make: Recent Auckland photography':
"Chris Corson-Scott’s images are the highlight for me so far. The quality! I have alas not seen the exhibition that this book accompanies (I'm only reviewing the book here), but I would really like to view these photographs full scale. They are like German objective photography but with warmth, population, and tons and tons of South Pacific light. Great photographers such as Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff might blanch at such contrasty conditions, but Corson-Scott has harvested the light and served it to us as a banquet. The works have a melancholy that is more subtle than Gregory Crewdson’s (currently on show at the Wellington City Gallery, and which are also large-scale prints of the highest photographic quality). Bring this show to Wellington, too, please!"
Photography Matters II