JTF (just the facts): A total of 8 large scale black and white photographs, framed in grey and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the single room gallery space. All of the works are lacquered pigment prints, made in 2015. Physical sizes are either 43×53 (in editions of 5) or 60×72 or reverse (in editions of 2). (Installation shots below.)
Comments/Context: Adam Katseff’s newest landscapes continue his photographic investigations of the textural depth of near darkness, albeit with the addition of a few extra lumens this time to change the range of tonalities. His recent images of rivers and waterfalls echo well-worn classics of the landscape genre, while at the same time paring down their natural grandeur into simple essences. Project by project, he’s reinventing what it means to visually engage with the land, turning vistas and landmarks into elegant studies of elemental form.
While in daylight, a river or a waterfall might slip into a harmonious equilibrium with its surroundings, but at night, these bodies of water stand out, almost like negatives. Long exposures turn the moving water into fuzzy veils and eerily flat surfaces, and from afar, Katseff’s images become nearly abstract linear forms – a Barnett Newman vertical zip, an arc, a turn, a widening triangle, a lazy s-curve. In each picture, the water shimmers with quiet luminescence, like silvery ribbons, misted glass, or frothy cotton candy (at least one river actually appears to be frozen, which may further account for its ethereal glowing whiteness); the backdrops become dark figure and ground exercises, the water carving its path out of slashing eroded hillsides and enveloping blackness. Up close, the supporting rocky textures and jagged crags come alive with detail and shadow, and provide a velvety contrast to the silently smooth water.
At a time when intense drought is pummeling his home state of California, Katseff’s landscapes seem to celebrate water as a kind of magical and mercurial elixir that runs through a universally inhospitable land. His river scenes especially feel full of suspended energy, where the meandering water is a kind of life giving force that holds much more power than the depleted hills around it. In Katseff’s rich darkness, the shining water has become disembodied, actively carving its own path through nothingness.
Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The 43×53 prints are $9000 each, while the 60×72 prints are $18000 each. Katseff’s work has not yet reached the secondary markets with any regularity, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.