Twosomes Exhibit: Paired Photographs Have Wide Appeal

By Katherine H. Smith On February 9, 2012 @ 12:48 am In Literary & Visual Arts | No Comments

Photographer Mark Chester’s juxtaposed photos, taken at widely different times and places, are currently on view in SoHo, Manhattan. “Men With Pipes, Sweden, 1972, and Tribal Woman With Pipe, the Philippines, 1977.” (Courtesy of Mark Chester)

Photographer Mark Chester’s juxtaposed photos, taken at widely different times and places, are currently on view in SoHo, Manhattan. “Men With Pipes, Sweden, 1972, and Tribal Woman With Pipe, the Philippines, 1977.” (Courtesy of Mark Chester)

NEW YORK—Mark Chester’s current exhibition resonates with subtle humor and blatant skill. Chester’s photographs are displayed as individually framed pairs (diptychs) in the aptly titled Twosomes exhibit in SoHo, Manhattan.

Remarkably, these pictures were taken independently from one another. Their thoughtful pairings are the culmination of a 10-year creative process.

OK Harris Gallery’s clean, linear, and simple installation creates a perfect venue for the viewer’s enjoyment. The magnetic quality of the juxtaposed images is magnified by the single-hung photographs in the stark room with its low ceilings. Chester tacitly invites his audience to make personal connections between the twosomes—some obvious, others discrete, all compelling.

Chester has traversed the world as an observer of people, using his lens to simultaneously relate with others and invisibly document their stories. He credits his upbringing as an only child of divorced parents with imparting his life-long independence and sense of adventure.

Chester’s upbeat and intriguing photographs evidence his homage to a mother and father who perennially supported his career choices in the arts. His pictures belie an inner confidence in his perspective. They are simple yet brilliant, absent the artificial quality inherent in the work of artists who feel the need to impress or defend.

By contrast, Chester graciously invites us to experience his subjects with him. He steadfastly resists the impulse to interpret for us.

The encompassing appeal of this exhibition is evidenced by the diversity among those in attendance. Children as well as adults of all ages and vocations delight in the creatively sequenced pictures.

His muse is Woods Hole, Mass., where he retreats to the quiet and natural beauty of his home. He wistfully remarks that he has searched for half of his life to find the right place to live the rest of his life.

Richard Francisco, one such gallery observer, wryly described himself as a building superintendent in disguise, one who labored under the delusion of being an artist.

Another gallery-walker, Howard Plimack, also admired the clever juxtapositions between the photos. Plimack spent three decades fixing Xerox machines in the SoHo area and has frequented O.K. Harris for years to admire the gallery’s myriad exhibits. Twosomes clearly evokes an emotional response in artists and lay people alike.

Chester, the man behind the camera, is as self-effacing and humorous as the subjects he depicts on film. In response to my query as to what he would have been if he couldn’t have pursued photography, he laughingly replied, “unhappy.”

Chester’s work during the 40-year span of his career has been 85 percent self-assigned. As a freelancer, he judiciously retains the copyrights to his artistic legacy.

Images taken during 40 years of traveling and presented in pairs tell how things, activities, and people from around the globe are related in unexpected ways. “Bowler, Japan, 1978, and Pitching Horseshoes, Iowa, 1978.” (Courtesy of Mark Chester)

Images taken during 40 years of traveling and presented in pairs tell how things, activities, and people from around the globe are related in unexpected ways. “Bowler, Japan, 1978, and Pitching Horseshoes, Iowa, 1978.” (Courtesy of Mark Chester)

A book version of Twosomes has recently been published by Un-Gyve Press. The Nemrow sisters, co-founders of The Un-Gyve Limited Group, describe Chester as modest regarding the extent of his portfolio and experience and his photographs as “naturally resistant to snideness.”

The Nemrows first made Chester’s acquaintance when he entered their gallery, Isole Gallery of Art and Industrial Design in Boston, and charmingly asked if he could be their friend.

Chester’s professional accomplishments are far too voluminous to detail. So let it suffice to relate that exhibitions of his work have spanned the globe and are part of the permanent collections of art institutions in major cities across the United States.

Presently, Chester is working on a parody of “Where’s Waldo,” titled “Where’s Chester?” He is taking photographs of 19 towns, villages, and cities in the United States, England, and Nova Scotia that bear the name “Chester.”

His muse is Woods Hole, Mass., where he retreats to the quiet and natural beauty of his home. He wistfully remarks that he has searched for half of his life to find the right place to live the rest of his life.

Twosomes is a prime example of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. On a grand scale, Chester’s diptychs on display at OK Harris in SoHo is a twosome in and of itself. Enjoy the artful pairing of this intelligent exhibition of photographs with its mate: a historic and dynamic gallery housed within New York City’s flourishing SoHo fine arts community.

Twosomes is on view at the OK Harris Gallery, 383 West Broadway, Manhattan, until March 3.

Katherine H. Smith writes the weekly advice column “Between You and Me,” appearing on the Living page on Mondays. She lives in Manhattan.


:

Copyright © 2012 Epoch Times. All rights reserved.