PREVIEW: Wednesday 10 April
The work of four female photographers take centre stage at the Messums Photography booth, Atong Atem, Yan Wang Preston and Polly Penrose are presented together with a unique set of prints by Dr Ingrid Pollard.
Yan Wang Preston’s Cork Street debut of works from the Mother River and Forest series in 2021 was followed up by a purchase by the Victoria and Albert Museum (2022). The final (3rd) edition of “Egongyan Park, Chongqing, China, 2017” will be exhibited alongside the final print.
Dr Ingrid Pollard’s powerful and unique commissioned response to images shot byThomas Dinesen in the Ngong hills of Kenya, and exhibited in Cork street 2022 will also be represented.
Atong Atem was first presented in Cork Street in 2020, with collection of works from a series of work now held in the National Gallery of Victoria (purchased 2021) and exhibited here.
Polly Penrose, solo show Messums Wiltshire 2022, extends the breadth of female lens based art, leaning into a narrative that is personal as well as sculptural.
Alongside these remarkable works, Messums Photography will also exhibit a debut for Jean Vincent Simonet who unveils a unique print pushing process into the individual and painterly.
Continuing a theme on the unique and original, a large vintage (1963) print by Norman Parkinson of Elisabeth Frink’s London studio inscribed by Norman Parkinson “to Lis” will be presented on the sculptor’s original studio easel.
And finally the dramatic and compelling images of Jeffrey Milstein shot from a helicopter capture the patterns of nature and civilisations in a series that nods to the innate language of order and pattern that architects our lives by accident and by design.
Atong Atem: Self Portrait in Gingham no.2
Atong Atem is an Ethiopian born, South Sudanese artist living in Melbourne. Atong works primarily with photography and video to explore contemporary identity through portraiture and in particular the fluidity of migrant narratives and postcolonial practices in the African diaspora. She explores concepts of home and identity through a critical and sentimental lens and references the works of photographers Malick Sidibe and Seydou Keita as well as science fiction writers such as Octavia Butler as her aides in navigating these liminal spaces.
Atong’s photographic images are both studies of history as well as portraits of people and explore storytelling, performance and costume as pillars of cultural expression. She is as interested in 1950s kitsch interiors, and sci-fi tropes as she is in the cultural heritage of South Sudan, Kenya and Australia – places which all form part of her own identity. Interested in the way that visual histories and narratives shape identity, she uses them in a playful way, layering different identities and references to create images that have a maximalist aesthetic.
Jean-Vincent Simonet is best described as an alchemist, creating pictures that sit uneasily in the borderlands between photography, sculpture, and painting. His unique approach is a result of his family heritage and his fascination with the process behind image making. After the establishment of a successful career as a photographer, he returned to his family’s industrial printing factory, realising the huge potential for experimentation that was offered by industrial printing machines.
Simonet began to understand that through using heat, humidity and different drying methods,he could transform, erase, vanish, almost sculpt the surface of a print. The resulting works are printed on a plastic foil-type surface that has been put through a variety of processes whilst the ink is not yet fixed. No two pieces can ever be identical even if they are made from the same original file and the physicality involved and gestural expression that Simonet brings to each print is finally fixed when it is run through water for the last time.
Jean-Vincent Simonet: Novembre Flowers #1
Polly Penrose: Self Portrait as Epilepsy Statue, in Red
Polly Penrose studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts in London. She went on to work in Fashion Styling and after that worked for the photographer Tim Walker. She has always taken photographs but started to take the practice seriously when she entered and won a competition held by the London Photographic Association in 2008.
Penrose has been taking self-portraits on a ten-second timer and more recently a remote for nearly 20 years. Her work is unpremeditated and spontaneous and records her responding to her environment. She explores identity and the opposed notions of vulnerability and empowerment, comedy and tragedy. Her pictures focus less on sexuality and female allure, but retain the awkward, often beguiling force of the body as an object, pushed into a space, forced into a position whilst feigning a sense of normality and control.
She held her first solo show, A Body of Work, at the Downstairs at Mother Gallery, London, in May 2014, and her second solo show 10 Seconds at the Hoxton Gallery, London, in May 2016. The same year, she exhibited in the group shows Self Reflection at the Untitled Space, New York, and All Inclusive at the HVW8 Gallery, Berlin. In 2018, she showed work in Spring Break Art Show in New York, and at Messum’s Wiltshire as part of the group show Image. Her third solo show, Self Obscured, was at the Benrubi Gallery, New York in 2019, and the same year in Gossamer, curated by Zoe Bedeaux at the Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate. In September 2020, she exhibited in Emerging Contemporaries at the Michael Hoppen Gallery and A Picture of Health, Woman Photographers from the Hyman Collection, at the Arnolfini Gallery Bristol.
Penrose’s work has been featured widely in publications including The Guardian, Dazed Digital, The British Journal of Photography, The Huffington Post, and Artnet.
Yan Wang Preston is a visual artist with sustained interests in landscape representation, its relationship to national and personal identities, migration as well as the environment. With large-format photography as her primary media, her solo, collaborative and participatory projects employ still and moving image, sound, performance, installation and the artist book to explore complex ideas from multiple angles.
Wang Preston’s practice is characterised by long-term and rigorous research processes that are led by her committed embodiment within the landscape in order to gain first-hand, skin-to-skin like understanding. Her ambitious concepts are often highly demanding physically, intellectually and emotionally. For her first major project, Mother River (2010-2014), she photographed the entire 6,211km Yangtze River in China at precise 100m intervals on a large-format plate camera. Such monumental undertaking enabled her to provide a multi-layered, vernacular view of contemporary China while subverting the existing hierarchies within the Yangtze’s photographic representation established since 1842. Her second project, Forest (2010-2017), investigated the complexities, hopes and failures of constructed urban nature in China by following the adaptation journeys of transplanted old trees.
Wang Preston’s projects are internationally and critically acclaimed. She won the 1st Prize in Professional Landscape, Sony World Photography Awards (2019), 1st Prize in Professional Commission, Syngenta Photography Prize (2017) and the Shiseido Photographer Prize at the Three Shadows Photography Annual Award in Beijing, China (2016). She was awarded as one of the Hundred Heroines by the Royal Photographic Society in 2018.
Her solo exhibitions have been presented at leading public institutions such as the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK (2022), LOOK Photo Biennale, Liverpool, UK (2019), Xposure Photography Festival, UAE (2018), Gallery of Photography Ireland (2017), Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum (2015) and the Swatch Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including The Time is Right, Jeddah Photo 2022, Facing Britain: British Documentary since the 1960s (2021-2022, currently on tour), Ten by Ten at Fotofest, Houston, USA (2020), Sony World Photography Awards (international touring show, 2019), 40 Years Contemporary Chinese Photography, Shenzhen, China (2018), and Dubai Photo (2016). Her first solo exhibition in London, Yan Wang Preston: With Love was presented at Messums London in June 2022.
Yan Wang Preston: Y8_700km from the river source
Yan Wang Preston: Y13_1,200km from the river source
Wang Preston’s work is published as two monographs: Mother River (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2018) and Forest (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2018). Her photographs and writing have been published on numerous popular, specialist and academic platforms such as The Guardian, Irish Times, Architecture Review, Asian Review, De Correspondent, Granta, and the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art.
Her work is in the collection of the National Trust, UK, Wuhan Art Museum, China, Syngenta AG, Swatch Art Peace Hotel and a large following of private collectors. Her UK print sales is represented by Messums London.
Wang Preston was born in Henan Province in China in 1976, to a family of medical doctors. She gained her BA in Clinical Medicine in Fudan University, Shanghai, in 1999 and was subsequently qualified as a practicing anesthetist. She emigrated to the UK in 2005 and changed her career to photography. In 2009 she gained a MA in Visual Arts at Bradford Collage, Leeds Beckett University. In 2018 she was awarded a PhD in Photography by the University of Plymouth. Alongside her artistic career, she lectures at the University of Huddersfield on BA, MA and PhD levels. She is an active supporter of photography, serving as a judge for the Royal Photographic Society’s International Photography Exhibition 161, Criteria of Merit Panel for Hundred+ Heroines and on the board of Redeye The Photography Network. She lives in West Yorkshire, UK, with her husband and daughter.
Jeffrey Milstein: Rome Neighborhood near Piazza Navona
Jeffrey Milstein was born in the Brox in 1944 and now lives in Woodstock. He received a degree in architecture from UC Berkley in 1968 and practised as an architect before turning to photography in 2000. Growing up his two interests were art and flying, becoming a pilot at the age of 17. His passion for flight led to his well-known typology of aircraft photographed from below while landing. The work was presented in a solo show at the Ulrich Museum of Art in 2008, as well as in a year-long solo show at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 2012. In 2016 it was on display at the Brandts Museum in Odense, Denmark.
In recent years Milstein has reversed the direction of the camera creating award winning unique aerial images of man-made landscapes that are iconic and emblematic of the modern world. These photographs have been recently shown in solo shows at Kopeikin Gallery, Bau-Xi Gallery, and Benrubi Gallery in 2017-2018. The National History Museum of Los Angeles County opened a permanent installation in 2017 which included a large-
scale reproduction of Milstein’s aerial photograph of Beverly Hills. His aerial photograph of Newark Airport is a cover image for the catalogue accompanying the traveling FEP exhibition ‘Civilization, The Way We Live Now’.