c|e contemporary

JOHN GELLINGS – Vertical New York

curated by Batsceba Hardy and Christine Enrile 

The towers of ancient Babylon have become the hundred skyscrapers of Manhattan. New York: the new Babylon. Dizzying walls plunge into the canyons of the avenues. Thousands of glasses shine like the sun. One of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, built by man for man. And here are the evocative images of John Gellings grasping the strength and beauty contained and the shadows that affect them as pauses. Passers-by, alone, fleeting, seem to witness the transitional secret of these prodigious architectures. Manhattan-New York, the stage for these figures with its backgrounds, edges, corridors, surfaces, slabs, overhangs … Gellings invites us to horizontally along the verticals, a good sign not to get lost. “Robert Capa once said ‘If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough'”. Gellings accepts the quote as a challenge, having New York and its verticality as the perfect backdrop. “I have always enjoyed photographing the quiet moments of the busy metropolis. Shooting on a Sunday morning, with the fewest people and cars, little confusion around the tall buildings I wanted to shoot. This concerns my love for the place more than for its inhabitants. But also the loneliness that one can feel in a place where people live crowded together and are too cold to be friendly with strangers ”. Manhattan is one of the most densely populated areas in the world (73,000 residents per square mile) and as the author suggests “there is also anonymity, solitude, in walking the streets, and I try to convey that in my photographs”. “Using vertical framing was the challenge. Space and spaciousness but vertically speaking within continuous layers of buildings. Some of my friends considered it ugly. In my stubborn head, that meant vertical framing was exactly what I had to use. So an initially personal challenge has become my favorite way of representing the verticality of the city. Show it in the vertical frame. A perfect fit ”. “My work is a convergence between street photography and architectural photography, although it does not completely conform to the style of both. Although the challenges that led me to this project were simple and not too intellectual, they are now an integral part of my artistic development and my way of conceiving photography ”. “As for my technique, I used digital cameras – APS-c sensor and 35mm full frame – (Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony) and the Lightroom program since 2008. Being able to digitally control the perspective, I was able to couple the spontaneity of the street photography with the perspective correction tools of architectural photography. I preferred lenses between 35-85mm for their lack of distortion and a rendering definitely far from the photos of mobile phones that tend to rely on wide angles ”. “I’ve always tried to do things differently. I believe this is the purpose of art and the proposal of a choice of images of my project ”.

text: Batsceba Hardy

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