For an artist, knowing how to present work is almost as important as the work itself. Not all things look great at large scale—some are better left small, jewel-like. This is definitely not the case for the works on display at Hilton Asmus Contemporary’s two locations.
Christian Voigt, who lives and works in Hamburg, Germany, makes images that are large and highly detailed. In fact, without the size, the viewer would surely miss many of the delicate nuances that his nearly life-size images highlight. Libraries and museums throughout the world fall under the spell of Voigt’s lens, becoming something even more exquisite than they are in person, more magical and mystical minus the crowds that usually fill their rooms. A favorite is “Amber Room” made in the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg, Russia. The warmth and gilded splendor of the room is palpable in the photograph—one feels “there.” And yes, the size of Voigt’s images that fill entire walls contribute to that sense of presence. Some of Voigt’s other images are exteriors. “Basecamp III,” “Machu-Picchu I” and “Arabesque,” are lovely, but somewhat abstract for their distance and lacking in the wow factor of the interiors.
David Yarrow, on the other hand, prints as large as he lives. His images of wildlife are nothing short of spectacular. The stories of how the images are made are hair-raising and heroic, lending even more fascination to the work. A Scotsman, Yarrow seems to take any challenge that comes his way, often from within his own imagination, sometimes to almost hilarious effect—wolves cavorting with models, models dressed as hippies hanging from the windows of a VW mini-bus in a recent color image. There is nothing that Yarrow doesn’t try at least once. He does have a serious side, and the wildlife images are proof of that. He is brilliant at composition and a master printer, creating images that tick all the boxes of a perfect photograph, particularly in black-and-white. His newest book, “Storytelling,” is aptly titled—all of Yarrow’s work tells stories. Some are quirky tall tales, but many—the best of them—tell the story of stunningly beautiful wildlife that we are losing through our carelessness and apathy.
Disclosure: I am represented by Hilton Asmus as an artist.
“Spaces: Christian Voigt” and “Storytelling: David Yarrow,” Hilton | Asmus Contemporary, 716 North Wells and 3622 South Morgan. On view through December 30.