Very few galleries get the chance to have such an amazing artist as Gina Soden hold a solo show so early on in the artist’s career, let alone so early on in the gallery’s life. However last night Gina Soden and the newly established Eye Like Gallery (run by gallerist Saro Brindley) proved that they made the perfect team to present Emergence to the world.
I cannot adequately convey what standing in front of a work by Gina Soden is like. Her photography captures far more than the shell of the buildings she photographs, she seems to have perfected photographing their personalities and their characteristics… and what is more, she absolutely loves doing it. Hearing her speak at the opening of her show at Eye Like Gallery in Beaconsfield last night, I was struck by how much she genuinely cared about the spaces she had photographed for this series, and how closely she felt she had to guard their secrets in order to protect the hidden architecture she had discovered.
Emergence is a celebration of Gina’s work and her distinctive style of photographing abandoned architecture throughout Europe. Although Emergence quite rightly describes Gina as an artist at the very beginning of her career, she has already won the acclaimed National Open Art – Emerging Artist of the Year Award and it was announced last night that she has been awarded a prize again this year – the full details are to be announced later in September! The collaboration with Saro at Eye Like Gallery seems to be the perfect match of personalities and approaches to the artworks that are displayed as part of Emergence. Saro, and her gallery manager Mollie, have done a superb job of cleverly hanging over 20 works and manage to create relationships between pieces by contrasting colour, shape and perspective to fantastic effect. Never have I been so impressed by a collection of architectural photographs – the effect of a whole gallery hung, very well, with Gina’s work was mesmerising. The derelict spaces somehow manage to seem both serene and evocative of the action required to save them from total decay.
The highlight of the show, and the one piece above all I was so eager to see, was ‘Krankenhaus’. Part of Gina Soden’s Emergence series, ‘Krankenhaus’ is a photograph taken at a “sprawling sanatorium” (the tantalising description of this German building whose location Gina wouldn’t reveal) which, as a clue, can claim that Adolph Hitler was treated there. The monumental photograph is complemented by the equally monumental production of the piece that is an impressive 1.5m by 1.5m. ‘Krankenhaus’ is the direct result of the collaboration between artist and gallery to create a centrepiece for the show. As an edition of only 3 (with two artists proofs) I have no doubt that the collaboration will be successful in more than one way.
Eye Like Gallery have combined works from Gina’s Emergence series with some pieces from her series ‘Decadenza‘ and ‘Retrogression‘. The three series compliment each other so well it is difficult to spot in the hang which pieces are from the earlier two series. Each piece has in common Gina’s love of the spaces she photographs, her sympathy for the architecture and her overall defining feature – (and her self professed obsession) a sense of symmetry. The symmetry found in her work is not just a symmetry based around a vertical axis, or through mirrored spaces, but through careful composition and balance. Take ‘Krankenhaus’ for example, perfectly balanced and symmetrically composed, yet one need not look very long or hard to see that the photograph is asymmetrical in its architectural composition.
The highlight of the evening and of the opening of ‘Emergence’ was being able to hear Gina speak so frankly and honestly about her work and about a passion that has (so far) consumed 4 years of her artistic career, and being able to speak to the gallery that had made the show possible, and to the incredible team at Eye Like Gallery.
Visit Emergence at Eye Like Gallery in Beaconsfield while you have the chance to see a solo exhibition with Gina Soden, an artist I know is just going to get bigger and bigger, and I can’t wait to see what she produces next!
Click here for details of the exhibition.