New York Photo Review
Volume 2 Issue 45 December 20 to January 3, 2012

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

Momento Mori
Robert Richfield
Still Life: Between the Living and the Dead
Don Burmeister
Faro-8, Algarve, Portugal by Robert Richfield. Source: robert-richfield.com
Robert Richfield, "Faro-8, Algarve, Portugal" 2010

Upon entering Robert Richfield’s exhibition at the Klotz Gallery you have a choice––you can either circle the room in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. I chose the latter and was immediately met by what seemed to be an elaborately Photoshopped collage, incorporating multiple old photographs of a single man, flowers and odd intermediate layers of textured color.

As I continued on, a recurring theme emerged. Pictures seemed to be sometimes haphazard, sometimes eloquent photo elegies. (As is my wont I had also not read the press release on the show beforehand, so was free to imagine anything I chose!)

About halfway through the room it started to become clear that some of the layers in the pictures were reflections of a larger scene that included textured layers of water droplets. (Oh the wonder of the Photoshop filter kit, I thought.) Finally, as I was about to complete the circuit, reflections of the outer world became more prominent. Indeed in several images, standing amidst rows of elaborate mortuaries and monuments, was the photographer himself, intently peering into the glass reflection.

Faro-2, Algarve, Portugal by Robert Richfield. Source: robert-richfield.com
Robert Richfield, "Faro-2, Algarve, Portugal" 2009

Most of the pictures in the exhibit were photographed in cemeteries in Portugal, where individual family mausoleums and more modestly stacked walls of aboveground tombs form extensive ‘Cities of the Dead.’ Many of the smaller stacked graves are built with a small niche in the front where family members can place plaques, flowers and other memorial items. These, in turn, are protected by small gates, and, more recently, by glass fronts. Richfield photographs these small, homemade assemblages, making artful use of reflections and water condensation on glass to give them their ethereal, otherworldly quality––an opening onto another world.

An old-fashioned quality adheres to this work. While there is certainly a good deal of Photoshopping in the prints (and I suspect the multiple planes of sharp focus are attained through the use of the latest digital techniques,) the position and attitude of the photographer have a traditional feel. For Richfield is acting as a reporter, an acute and artful one in his case, but not a creator of new worlds. Even though there are some deliberate self-portraits in the show, his focus remains on content, reminding us of photography’s strengths and why so many are drawn to it.

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The gallery website is a bit stingy with images from this show, but the artist's site has a large selection.

Robert Richfield
Still Life: Between the Living and the Dead


Alan Klotz
511 W 25th St. 7th Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 741 4764
klotzgallery.com

Thursday, November 10 to
Friday, December 23, 2011
Hours: Wed-Sat, 11 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery