Photographic Constructs by Karl Grimes
At the Old Museum Arts Centre, College Square North, Belfast, 1992.
Review by Brian Lynn
Using locations from Allihies on the Beara peninsula, Co. Kerry, to Algeciras in Southern Spain and on into Morocco and Tunisia - Karl Grimes has produced a wide ranging mix of images and subjects. Yet some how all of them have been linked by his technique of juxtaposing two near mirrored images, then overlaying a third dominant central image which acts as catalyst and metaphor.
After graduating from U.C.D. where he studied urban design and sociology, Grimes worked in publishing with Bord Fáilte, then three years in freelance advertising after which he moved to Paris working for Vogue. When there he co-founded the Vision Agency. Recent work has been influenced by his involvement with sculptors and film makers in the National College of Art & Design, when he returned to Dublin. He now teaches design and photography in Dublin City University.
His interest in the panoramic format follows the photographers of the 1870's, whose great desire for experiment and innovation influenced him. Intrigue and mystery are ever present in Grimes' work. Initially each one demands a comparison between the right hand image and its mirrored counterpart. In 'Beach at Sousse' the two images are symmetrical - a dramatic vista of receding beach umbrellas is made into a visual conundrum, reinforced by the subtle fact that the central foreground umbrella is not symmetrical.
The 'Giant Cactus of Algeciras' shows a large cactus filling the centre of the picture from top to bottom overlaid on a symmetrical view of a harbour. One almost feels it could be the base of a man-made steel suspension bridge, the regularly spaced spines redolent of rivets and the graceful sweep of the leaflike superstructure reiterated by the outline of cranes on the skyline.
One of the most powerful images is 'Allah and the Pleasure Tree' which epitomises his feelings for the great power in architectural structures. The interplay of light, shade, and texture and the interaction between man-made and existing indigenous forms, all become prominent in this piece.
All in all a very exciting show only marred by the fact that the space could only exhibit a third of the series. The selection however was admirable in what is a pleasant well lit gallery.