Notes from the exhibition of the American photographer Lewis Baltz held in the Fundación Mapfre (Madrid) from 9thFebruary to 6th June, 2017, curated by Urs Stahel. This is the first exhibition in Spain of his work, as well as the first international retrospective that takes place after his death in 2014.
This photographer illustrates very well through his pictures the sense of abandoned and defeat of the American suburbs that proliferate on the oulskirts of cities. In certain way, his work shows how the human action has transformed the landscape.
In the exhibition we find several series and diferent styles, although there is a common factor among them: barren and abandoned spaces where we can’t see the human figure, although the consecuences of his presence are very plain to see.
“The Tract House” (1969-1971) show a collection of unfinished single-family houses. The takes are straight and frontal, confronting the viewer to vision that don’t offers any other possible option. The reading is simple. Regular and artificial spaces for living. It looks like a typology although the artist type different approaches to each house.
On “Maryland” he explores the relation between house and the surrounding space. He walkes throught the spaces where these house were built, trying to establish connection between the different elements of the area. I think is a kind of a documentary exploration. In certain way, this work preludes his later work “Park City”.
On “Generic Night Cities” (1989-2000) he creates landscapes where the night lights are the predominant subjects of the scenes.
An interesting work is “Candlestick point”, a big series of photographs, disposed alongside the wall, deliveratly introducing empty spaces among the pictures. It’s difficult to find any narrative intention on the series; instead the set looks like a set of images taken by a number of survey cameras.
Halfway between conceptual art and photography. It does not intend to document the society, nor to order its photographs in a temporal sequence. His message transcends the everyday.