Rennie Collection is proud to present a group exhibition bringing together 23 internationally acclaimed artists. Narrowing its focus on photographic works, this survey aims to investigate the many aspects embedded within the act of seeing and how photography impacts perception. The exhibition runs from June 18 to October 15, 2016.

In an image obsessed world we look, but often fail to see. Be it casual snapshots, a carefully composed tableau or seemingly random abstract captures, photographs contain far more than what initially meets the eye. This exhibition presents images that encourage seeing − not just seeing the immediate with the eyes, but perceiving with the mind, discerning with our knowledge, and accepting (or not) with our understanding.

Monochromatic works by Mike Kelley and Andrew Dadson flirt with the power of colour to inform through reduction, with both artists subjecting found objects to a single hue. Kelley grounds photographic reproductions of Mark Rothko’s soaring rectangles with shades of plangent purple, creating lyrical lights and muddy darks, and blurring the lines of authorship and appropriation. The literal garbage pile in Dadson’s Black Yard (2007) is coated with classy black, elevating a clash of shapes and colours into an elegant tableau of luminous darkness. Similarly the trash and detritus of White Corner (2007) is sanitized by a coating of white that sets the scene for a perverse Winter Wonderland. This black and white pairing are augural bookends to the gradients of hand painted balls in Baldessari’s National City (W, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, B) (1996).

A deliberate removal of visual cues is a technique in both Baldessari’s photos of his hometown, National City, and his 2006 photo montage of sensory organs, Ear and Nose: Right Side (Analia). The latter singles out anatomical elements of a silhouetted profile to play with ideas around communication. While inviting the viewer to complete the picture, the work still manages to omit content at the artist’s wish. Ed Ruscha and Richard Prince examine absence in their own ways. Ruscha’s minimally composed snapshots of vacant lots from 1970 serve as temporal reference points for a city that is evolving, while Prince’s The Girl Next Door (1999) relies on familiar visual and lexical cues to conjure a uniquely American middleclass cultural typology. Similarly, Doig’s rarely seen Photographs 1-9 (2000) are a mnemonic echo to his much lauded paintings. In all cases, the barren scenes depicted are loaded with possibilities of moments past or promises of what may be.

Louise Lawler’s subversive depictions of artworks in museums, private collections, auction houses and storage facilities offer unique insights into the art world by shifting the focus from the artwork to its environment. Her black and white photograph Twice Untitled (B/W) (2004/2005) disrupts how we experience art by choosing to show only the backs of two Felix Gonzalez-Torres photographs, calling into question the assignment of value and traditional determinants of display. Meanwhile, classical landscape and portraiture are turned upside down, literally, in photographs by Rodney Graham and Marlo Pascual.

Yasumasa Morimura and Cindy Sherman subvert notions of identity and femininity by borrowing from western cultural cannons. Sherman’s mimicry of Lucille Ball is presented in a masterful guise. Even as Sherman vanishes behind artifices to fully embody the beloved comedienne, the artist’s subtle yet provocative gaze remains the signifier of self identity, differentiating her from Ball. Through his depictions of legendary Hollywood leading ladies, Morimura deconstructs the traditional definition of self-portraiture. His impressively uncanny, yet slightly off kilter, 1996 homage both honours and subverts conventional definitions of feminine identity and desirability. In the hands of Lyle Ashton Harris, self-portraiture often becomes a means of questioning constructed selfhood. His ephemeral Middletown (1987) draws from juxtapositions to conjure a subtle portrait of transition and displacement. Turning his back to the viewer, the artist is in pensive meditation. Harris reminds us that it is often the things we do not see that trigger meaning.

Presenting the most basic mechanics of photography, Christopher Williams’ seemingly unadorned 2003 photographs of the Soviet-era Kiev 88 camera are masked with intricacies. The dichotomy continues with his intensely colourful depiction of the dark room. Irresistibly hued, Wolfgang Tillmans’ Lighter (2010/2009/2010) series pushes the limits of what could be conceived as photography. The monochromatic c-prints are folded, bent and crumpled into a three dimensional state, producing at once a sculptural object and a photographic image.

Exhibited Artists