i haven’t been posting. here’s why.
March 12th – April 16th, 2011
Opening Reception: March 12th, 4-7pm
Baer Ridgway Exhibitions is pleased to present a solo exhibition with Sean McFarland: Viewshed, March 12th – April 16th, 2011. Through a disciplined studio practice utilizing unconventional modes of photography, McFarland continues to investigate the not so often seen vantage points of the Western landscape. The result of the artist’s color photographs, black and white Polaroids, and drawings is a seemingly humble presentation that unfolds into monumental imagery and ideas that will challenge the audiences’ understanding of both the environment and the photographic media.
Highlighted in this exhibition is McFarland’s latest body of work, Dark Pictures: 2008 – present. Within this series, the nearly black surfaces slowly dissipate when fragments of light are revealed in an orchestrated composition of color that reaches beyond the surface into an extreme depth of field. The images often present dense canopies of foliage that lead to uncharted voids creating an irresistible yet haunting space that encompasses the viewer without invitation or direction, begging the question: do I dare brave further into the darkness? After this initiation, the viewer uncovers the multitude of possibilities that lye herein these beautifully cinematic images.
Within the Dark Pictures, McFarland combs through landscapes that exist because of human conservation. Most of the images are of landscapes maintained to depict their native biotic communities in close proximity to human development; city parks, open spaces, gardens, the representation of the natural. Like the word landscape, a viewshed is often implemented for aesthetic reasons, or with an eye toward natural beauty of the place. A viewshed is much like a screen concealing what one doesn’t want the eye to see: for example, clear-cuts in old-growth forests are often obscured by trees that mask the devastation behind.
Also presented in this exhibition is an ongoing body of work, Pictures Of The Earth, 2008 – present. Along with these modest sized black and white Polaroids are several new graphite on paper drawings, all of which are heavily influenced by the Pictures Of The Earth series.
“This [McFarland’s] post-apocalyptic vision simultaneously communicates our desire to return to a wild, primordial state and our fear of the dark corners of the natural world…McFarland’s fantastical landscapes upend our perception of reality and challenge the authority of the photograph.”
-Lisa Sutcliffe, Assistant Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
“Trying to comprehend the array, your eye will move into and out of it with a sort of breathing rhythm. A single tiny image will seize your attention, then release it into the staccato phrasing of a row or of the whole ensemble.”
-Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle
“…there’s a slight feeling of discomfort as McFarland indulges an irresistible fantasy of making urban grit something we can lord over.”
-Glen Helfand, ARTFORUM
Born in Southern California, McFarland currently lives and works in San Francisco. McFarland earned his under graduate degree from Humboldt State University, and his MFA from California College of the Arts, San Francisco. McFarland’s has received several prestigious awards including the 2011 Eureka Fellowship from The Fleishhacker Foundation, an invitation to the 2011 Bay Area Now: 6 biennial exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, the 2009 Baum Award for Emerging American Photographers, the 2009 John Guttman Photography Fellowship, the 2005 Phelan Art Award in Photography from the San Francisco Foundation and SF Camerawork, the 2004 Fellowship from the National Photography Institute at Columbia University. In 2010, McFarland was a finalist for the SFMOMA’s Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art Award. McFarland’s residencies include the Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA and the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA (forthcoming, 2011). McFarland’s work has exhibited internationally over the past ten years and has been collected by several public and private collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art Library, the Oakland Museum, Humboldt State University, University of California Davis and Genentech.
Images & Information on Sean McFarland: www.baerridgway.com
Baer Ridgway Exhibitions
172 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Creek Portrait, 2011
C-Print, 45 x 30 inches