Los Angeles

Grant Mudford

Rosamund Felsen Gallery

Grant Mudford’s color photographs of truck trailers, like much other work, are dependent on context. Mudford has previously photographed similar subject matter, but in black and white; by using exaggerated film grain and contrasty lighting to emphasize line and a sense of flatness, these earlier pictures have blended the formal elements of his subject matter with characteristics of the photographic material. The recent color photographs here appropriate the subject matter in a similar manner, but utilize different strategies.

The evolution of the work has demonstrated a progressive organization of line and space. In earlier work the elemental physicality of Mudford’s subject matter was made prominent through varied and oblique positioning that created an illusion of space. Those considerations have been replaced with color elements in flat fields. Mudford has framed his pictures in a tight, formal manner which emphasizes color surfaces rather than the object photographed as an entity; that these images are of trailers used for transporting goods is incidental. Mudford’s prior use of form has been reduced to a play of small colored areas—painted logos and trucking information such as coded numbers and weight/height identification—within a relatively monochromatic color field, the bland, regular format of the trailers themselves.

One group of images is set apart from the trucking photographs. In each of these large Cibachromes a single paint-splattered bucket is presented in a regular manner that eliminates scale relationships and flattens the picture space, rather as the black and white typologies of Bernd and Hilla Becher do. The photographs become an installation, a functional group that makes reference to painting and the art world. One only wishes that the truck photographs defined their operative domain as clearly.

Mark Johnstone