Paul Graham

Paul Graham
June 1 – July 14, 1990

Stain remover, Munich, 1989
Color coupler print mounted on aluminium
51 x 38 cm

Image © Paul Graham

Woman smoking cigarette, Belfast, 1998
Color coupler print mounted on aluminium
152.5 x 114.5 cm 

Image © Paul Graham

Wire on post, Belfast, 1988
Color coupler print mounted on aluminium
165 x 122 cm

Image © Paul Graham

Original exhibition invitation (recto) 

Paul Graham

Paul Graham
June 1 – July 14, 1990
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A journey through Europe that leaves out national peculiarities. There sits a girl in dim disco lighting, there looks the one-armed man on the monotonous suburban landscape, and then there are the episodes from the grey zone of "drugs & sex". Unadorned photographs of anonymous, but often (worldwide) very familiar contexts. Photography as reality art with its aesthetics in the original meaning, the aesthesis, the mere perception (cf. KUNSTFORUM, vol. 91, p. 91). However, Paul Graham under no circumstances understands his works as documentary photography. The color photographs presented on aluminum and in large format - often elements of two - or three-part installations and their relationships with each other - often provoke the free play of association. But there are also unambiguous, sometimes flat references. The fact that the fixer in Zürich, the thoughtful-looking woman in Vigo (Spain), and the intertwined lovers in Barcelona were photographed is irrelevant for the overall statement of the work. The diptych (Untitled, Spain, 1988-89) is different: the detail of the cover plate of Franco's grave with traces of spit on the one hand and the shrilly girl from Vigo in the other.

Paul Graham, one of the numerous British artists who have recently presented in Cologne galleries, received this misleading label as documentary photographer, among other things from his photo volumes. A1 - The Great North Road, created between 1981 and 82, reflects a journey from London to Edinburgh in images of social misery, but also in the depictions of decay in both a civilizing and a natural context. Beyond Caring (1984-85) deals, among other things, with the inhumane atmosphere in waiting rooms of various welfare institutions in Great Britain. Troubled Land (1987) is dedicated to the everyday memorials and monuments of the Irish Republic.

In this last volume Graham creates more poetic visual worlds, here the game with ambiguities becomes more dominant. For the entire photographic work of the 34-year-old artist, it is true that it is reduced to a few subjects and that the object of photography is not staged – even if this is sometimes hard to believe given the scurrility of the pictures. Some of the lyrical works from the still unfinished series on Europe could also be seen in the work at Esther Schipper.

Here Paul Graham aestheticizes transience, disharmonies, but above all a detail in this context: Spanish coins on a honey-yellow metal surface covered with rust spots or minimal irritations of various kinds, broken, cut twigs or a metal part, in the foliage of the plants, according to the untitled triptych (Belfast, 1988). The red of the Union Jack painted on stone catches the eye, above all the tears flowing down from the strip of paint need no commentary. 

 

– Uta M. Reindl, Kunstforum International, 1990

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