The exhibition features two separate series of photographs, chosen to function together. While the show's title suggests a straightforward presentation of a particular art-historical format, the conventions of portraiture are deliberately misrepresented. Each of the images merely provides a supporting role to the power of their ‘non-subjects’. Here, the artist's lens is fixed squarely on his audience as the main concern: his 'portraits' are elaborate constructions, their comprehension entirely the viewer's responsibility.
Carl Jung notably used our fears of animals to indicate a detachment from our primitive instincts. In both projects here, the ‘creature’ is equally present and absent. Ansett's use of this absence to elicit 'portraits' from the audience serves to indicate the gulf that exists between us and our pre-modern selves.
The Untitled series featured in the upper gallery consists of four photographs presented at an unusually small size. The mysterious subjects are completely unidentifiable and without obvious scale. All explanation is denied to the viewer; there are no clues provided via the title or a supporting text, multiplying the uncertainty of our position while the convention of reading images breaks down.
In the lower gallery, Lion Hunting in Essex follows up on last year's media coverage relating to the discovery of a large jungle cat in the Home Counties. For a short time the sightings were taken seriously; with the police even hiring helicopters to scan the area with heat seeking devices. At the time of the event, Ansett also searched for traces of the ‘creature’ near to the location of the original reports. The resulting images are a reflection of fears sub-consciously present and projected onto a banal, unchanged landscape-rather than depicting any predator hidden amongst its greenery.
Richard Ansett (b 1966 UK) lives and works in London.
Recent exhibitions include the 2013 Arte Laguna Prize at the Arsenale in Venice and Partly Cloudy at the IZOLYATSIA Foundation Donetsk, following his residency at the same institution. Other recent exhibitions include the 2012 Salon Art Prize, the 2012 Grand Prix de la Decouverte, and Altered States at the Foley Gallery, New York US (2012). His work is in worldwide collections including the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and the Musee de la Photographie in Belgium.
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