Paul Hart - The Naked Land

Paul Hart - The Naked Land

1 February - 25 February 2012

Private View: Wednesday 1 February 6.30 - 8.30pm

“The shadowy half-light deceiving the senses. Alluring, secretive, mysterious and precious.”
Paul Hart

UK based photographer Paul Hart’s black and white photographs of undulating landscapes and dense forests capture quintessential English countryside with stylistic flair and remarkable understanding. This second solo exhibition at jaggedart includes work from three different photographic series over the last five years including Wired, East of England and Truncated.
In English Landscapes lines of crops sweep across the foreground, while inclement skies turn into billowing clouds over the extensive fields of the East of England. These striking images are quietly dramatic and beautifully composed. In the foreground every tuft of grass or stalk of corn is exquisitely defined. Paths are beaten through the land by previous repeated crossings of farmyard machinery, which cut a dynamic swathe through the photograph. The line of the horizon in each photograph is unique.

Paul’s photographs depict telegraph poles, pylons and wind turbines in the aptly named series Wired. Whether recognised as necessary energy resources, or as the blight of rural England, Paul renegates these posts to the background of each image. He creates comparisons between our reliance on energy and the rough readiness of the land we exploit, with an enduring elegance. Telegraph poles thread the images together drawing the viewer across the photograph into the mist swathed distance.

In the Truncated series, the photographs were taken in the pine forests of the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire. Like the photographs of the East of England, which largely depict farmland, there seems to be a correlation between the enjoyment of the land and land under a certain human control. Paul examines the relationship between man’s intrusion into the green and naked land.

There is another side to this relationship between humans and the land, in the anthropomorphic qualities that Paul gives to the trees. The titles from Truncated are often single words and reference a human world. The photographs are strangely figurative, psychological portraits. Paul expands on this comparing the forest to an entire social order; “They show the presence of a society, and portray something of what that society is like – its needs and priorities… they proliferate as populations grow.” The trees grow densely, letting through a dappled light and one wonders how the photographer could ever decide which trees to capture over others in the dense thicket. These photographs are portraits of the trees themselves.
However, for Paul, the central part of his work takes place in his darkroom. In there as an alchemist he handprints each photograph. Each work is selenium toned, thus unfolding unlimited possibilities of monochromatic shades. By a complex and slow printing process a tree, a pylon, a derelict barn, may appear floating as if detached from the surrounding landscape. This exquisite black and white quality allow little sense of the seasons, or if it is dusk or dawn, conveying a quintessential Englishness to the land.

Born in 1961, Paul graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a BA (Hons) Photography in 1988. He worked for six years in advertising photography, travelling throughout Europe and the USA, before embarking on a freelance career focusing more on the natural world. Over the last ten years, Hart has concentrated solely on personal projects. Hart has received awards at the PX3, France and the IPA in the USA. Hart’s first monograph ‘Truncated’ was published in 2008 and was a winner at the PX3 Awards in 2009.

Truncated, Photographs by Paul Hart with an essay by Gerry Badger, published by Dewi Lewis