Modern Masters | Hamilton's
So often when looking at large-scale work, it’s a single detail that catches your eye. With Modern Masters, a group photographic show currently on at Hamilton’s, it’s a young woman commuter in a light raincoat, glaring out from a train. She’s the emotional centre of Shinjuku Station, Tokyo, Japan, taken by photographer Hiro in 1962.
Across the breadth of this seven metre wide work, made up of seven gelatin silver prints, faces and hands of Tokyo commuters are pressed against the steamy glass of the subway car’s window. All are miserable, or at least not happy to be photographed. We’re separated from these people, not just by this layer of glass, but by over half a century. But anyone taking that sick morning train ride into the daily drudgery of work knows exactly how this woman feels.
Hiro trained with Richard Avedon in America, and shot this photo on a trip home. Maybe there’s something of his teacher’s formal mastery in the vaguely sculptural forms of his commuters. He’s helped by some great and dramatic lighting from Hamilton’s, bathing his work in an orangey glow.
Probably the most spectacular show I saw this week was Ian Davenport: Colourscapes at Waddington Custot, where the artist let streaks of acrylic paint drip down his aluminium backdrops and pool on the floor. I was thoroughly turned off by Alex Katz’s vapid and creamy-smooth Coca-Cola Girls, with their blank stares, squared-off feet and claw hands - on at Timothy Taylor.
Yun Hyong-Keun is a new name to me, but Simon Lee is showing his abstract works, which come in in various shades of umber and black.
Modern Masters is at Hamilton’s (London). 10 September - 23 November 2018