Thursday, 28 February 2008

Larry Clark: more KIDS a couple decades on

Larry Clark: Los Angeles 2003 – 2006

Larry Clark, one of the most admired photographer-filmmakers of his generation, renowned for the cult classic “KIDS” and further, if slightly more obscure and controversial films such as “Another Day In Paradise”, “Bully” and “Ken Park” – now exhibits his photography in London.
Berkeley Square is a far cry from the deadbeat sun-drenched Los Angeles that is the subject of the exhibition, and affects a strange irony as neo-yuppies eye malcontent tear-aways.
LA is present in the reflections caught in the eye of the main muse, a young Latino boy who grows up with each click of the shutter, LA is the atmosphere and the aesthetic, the mood and the moon that gives the boy’s coming of age a rhythm and a context.
The exhibition is the latest installment in a life-long artistic preoccupation with youth in its urban sprawl, transformation and descent, intimacy and detachment. The exhibition unfolds Jonathan Velasquez’s personality before the lens as it shifts and retreats, as he steps forward and withdraws, doubt and bravado in turn glimmering in his expression, his personality both revealed and constricted by the deadening lit setting of LA.
Larry Clark started working as a photographer at thirteen for the family business in Tulsa, by sixteen was shooting amphetamines and pictures of his friends shooting amphetamines and it was a preoccupation and subject matter he never left. His work has sparked outrage and discussion about social issues since the sixties and today it is no less astute and illuminating. He continues to capture the essence of youthful experience and the momentary sensuality and vulnerability of the dispossessed or distracted. He has inspired countless young photographers and artists; Bret Easton Ellis notably cited his work as inspiring his legendary novels, “Less Than Zero” and “The Rules of Attraction”. Even at sixty Larry Clark continuously captures youth with a combination of hard-earned wisdom and the same candor and freshness caught in the faces of his subjects.
This collection of photographs continues Clark’s exploration into the heart of adolescence, into motion without meaning and quietude without drive, into fleeting enlightenment and falling darkness, into what it is to be individual and alone in one shot and at one with the group the next. The drama of human identity on speed, unfolding and developing and evoking in the viewer an intimate connection with the photographer, the boy and and the atmosphere of tension and torn vanity.
Larry Clark is a photographer whose motive is honesty. He does not glamorize his subjects, he does not smother their identity with make-up or bleach them with clever lighting (see Vanity Fair Portraits if your preference is glamour). He depicts his subjects at their most vulnerable and personal without preying or prying or disturbing. The click of the shutter sounds so faint it could be mistaken for the beat of time, as he chronicles with a sort of modern naturalism what it is to be young and to lose it.

Larry Clark: Los Angeles 2003 – 2006
Simon Lee Gallery
Berkeley Street W1J 8DT

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