Friday, 24 July 2009

Well above Parr

Serendipity, the life-enhancing arrival of happy happenstance, keeps on happily happening for Mr Gnome and his human associate.

Along comes an outrageously generous birthday gift (from super-chum RF): a superbly produced large-format book featuring the extraordinary work of the British photographer Martin Parr.

How kind.

A few days later, one finds oneself (as one very occasionally does) in a big city with a few hours to spare before departure for home.

The city was Paris, so I decided to check out the gallery nearest to my friends' apartment; the magnificent Jeu de Paume, on the corner of the Place de la Concorde.

And, as vast amounts of posterage proclaimed, the current show was Planet Parr. One was speechless.

I have to say it is well worth the nine euros entry fee. This is a big, serious show - and there was more on dispaly than I could properly examine in the time available.

Parr's photographs are, well, 'very Martin Parr'. I guess the broad category is documentary. The majority are of people in everyday situations: at home, on a weekend excursion, at the club - or on holiday.

Parr tends to pump up the saturated colour in his images, giving clothes, furntiure, wallpaper and faces a look-at-me prominence. Combined with the seemingly random, unposed compositions, these da-glo pictures can seem borderline freakish.

But, the more you look, the more you realise that you're not being invited to look at 'them'. Parr's eye is essentially compassionate. The invitation is to look at ourselves.

In fact, photographs form only a small part of the show. Vast amounts of space are taken up with images from photographers who infleunced Parr.
And then there is his extraordinary collection of objects: postcards, tea-trays, posters, memorabilia.

No comments: