Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Steps

Published in the Expat newspaper 25 May 2008

Luis Martin Harder is a good photographer; he has learned the lessons of his craft and applies them diligently to make his pictures. In “Unscripted”, his first solo exhibition on show at Makati’s OW Gallery, he presents 21 works, the majority of which are grounded in the photographic tradition that supports aficionados the world over.

From “Sprinkles” which captures a freeze motion flow of water amidst rocks to “Refractions” a fine rendering of autumnal leaves floating in a pond. From “My Old Dream” where a bicycle stands guard before a painted door to “After the Journey” which depicts a banca floating before a dramatic sky. These photographs are the standard fare of camera club competitions; an internet search will reveal a thousand variations of a theme.

What lifts this exhibition out of the everyday and knocks on the fine art door are a handful of works that use the medium and/or the presentation to inform the photographic narrative. In “Freedom Wall”, Harder uses the inherent freedom of the light captured by his camera to float a layer of various orange hued rectangles over a grey wall. In “One Rainy Day” he again uses light to create an impressionistic rendering in orange and green of rain on a window pane. With “Sabong”, Harder enhances the drama of the cock fight by printing the work on canvas using its texture as a design element within the composition. Then there is “Side Walk Art” in which 3 brooms fill the picture plane, but it is Harder’s bold use of colour as an abstract design element that breathes life into this work.

With the proliferation of photography both in the numbers that can be seen at exhibitions or with the click of a mouse and the ever increasing means of production for a photographer to stand out in the crowd requires more than a solid application of the craft. With “Unscripted” Harder shows an appreciation of the medium that goes beyond the narrative of a captured moment in time, it will be interesting to see where this photo making journey takes him.

“Unscripted” is at OW Gallery, La Fuerza Plaza II, 2241 Don Chino Rocas Ave, Makati City until the 13th June.

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