Visual Arts

Brutal 'Scapes

Paris-based photographer Maurice Sherif is great at showing viewers everything by showing them nothing at the same time.

Unlike "Lumière Mètallique," a Tilt Gallery exhibition in August showcasing Sherif's large-format silver gelatin images captured in Paris' architecturally grandiose environment, "Variation Con Intensita" illustrates complex and detailed minimalism. Gone are the deep, elegant shadows, the eye-popping highlights, and the complete range of soft grays — elements that Sherif considers distracting in "Variation." Instead, the viewer is left with definitive presentations of dangerously barren landscapes shot in the unoccupied deserts of Algeria, the undeveloped Namibia vistas, the desolate mountains in Argentina, and straight-ahead depictions of the Guatemalan countryside. Think you can get some information from the titles? Forget it, because Sherif leaves all of his fine art prints anonymously pegged.

These visions act as a temporary escape from his adult profession, where he makes ends meet as a freelance photojournalist. He's been witness to cities destroyed by war, like Baghdad, where he has documented the brutalities that nobody wants to see. As a result, his fine art prints play with reality by disguising any signs of habitat — you'll be lucky even to find an animal footprint in the dirt. Each print contains a clear-cut symmetrical line where it's sometimes difficult to tell up from down, a trippy quality that Sherif creates by his choice of cropping the image in the viewfinder.

The exhibition of unusually manipulated chromogenic prints was selected from four of Sherif's portfolios that have been shown worldwide, including New York City's Nelson Hancock Gallery and Grégoire de Gaulle in Paris. Sherif's two-month run at Tilt Gallery came to fruition after the space expressed interest in his complete body of work rather than snippets here and there, which is commonplace with modern photography galleries.

Sherif will be present at the reception, fresh off his first Arizona road trip where he has been photographing not the Sedona red rocks or the Grand Canyon, but the most ruthless environment our state has to offer: the Arizona-Mexico border.

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Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen