Lawrence Rubin • Greenberg Van Doren • Fine Art is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new photographs by British artist Paul Graham. This is his first full one person show in New York in ten years. The series, entitled Paintings, premiers new color photographs made in the last year. The exhibition is on view from June 13 through July 21, 2000, and is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.
Paul Graham is among the leading international photographers in contemporary art. Active for over 20 years, the artist’s photographs have been the subject of numerous museum and gallery exhibitions, primarily in Europe, and nine books. Graham has been highly influential to photographers from Rineke Dijkstra to Richard Billingham, and collected by such institutions as The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Tate Gallery, London.
These photographs depict the extreme sexual graffiti, drawings, cancellations and erasures found in London’s cruising toilets. Behind this surface subject however, is a second layer – a meditation on the relationship between painting and photography. Viewed from a distance these seemingly abstract images of walls, doors and frameworks recall the post-war American painting of Rothko, Newman, Ryman, Rauschenberg or Twombly. As viewers, we expect the subtleties of color, light, and surface markings to be those of painted canvases. Upon a closer look, however, the abstract color fields reveal themselves to be photographic documents in which feint layers of obscene drawings and graffiti combine into uncensored expressions of the darkest desires – sexual offers, boasts, stories and fantasies. Thus the work flips between the spiritually evocative and the sexually explicit, between documentary photographs and abstract paintings, the spiritual and the profane. On the heels of ‘Sensation’, this work also comments on the current London ‘YBA’ scene and its interest in toilet humor.