Review: Chuck Kelton’s lush landscapes, crafted in the darkroom
Chuck Kelton uses photosensitive papers and darkroom chemicals (fresh and expired) to make gorgeous images that, without cameras or lenses, satisfy photography's visceral claims on representing the real. At the same time, they tap into the evocative power of other media — graphite and charcoal drawings, pastels, watercolors, stain paintings.
The dozen lush works at Von Lintel conjure landscapes of sorts, with relatively stable ground beneath a horizon and a more tempestuous atmospheric event above. Veiny corpuscles pulse in one sky; a field of flame ripples across another. Shadowy whirls and vaporous streaks create a sense of deep, active space. One picture invokes an apocalyptic sunset, one a wave of lyrically sensuous dunes.
The New Jersey-based Kelton, a longtime master printer for notable photographers, folds most of these sheets just below their midpoint, yielding a crack of white that reads as a luminous, distant horizon. There are passages above and beneath the fold that bleed and drift, inky opaque planes and striated grays, winds of dusty ash and sedimentary layers of warm, mineral browns.
Like Alison Rossiter's engrossing work using expired photographic papers, Kelton's is a dance of chance and control, gesture and accident. Landscape imagery always registers internal as much as external phenomena, and Kelton makes sure that we know he is not just transcribing nature by titling most of the images "A View, Not From a Window." These expansive vistas originate in the darkrooms of the studio and the self.
Von Lintel Gallery, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. Through June 18. Closed Sundays and Mondays. (310) 559-5700, www.vonlintel.com
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