A Brief Infinity
Von Lintel Gallery
April 22 – June 10, 2023
During the pandemic when people were confined to their homes, photographer Alex Hedison began to experiment with “chemigram” works that explore the interactions of chemicals and light on black and white photographic paper and are made without a camera, so they are devoid of a “representational” subject. She applied different “resists” to the paper to block its exposure to light, and changed the duration of time the paper was exposed.
Even after learning how to control these elements, the results were often surprising and somewhat unexpected, particularly in terms of color and texture. Due to the fact of their existence on unfixed photographic paper, they also continue to change over time. Knowing the images would begin to fade, Hedison “photographed” them at different stages to preserve specific instants, and even applied silver metallic paint to parts of the surfaces. These photographs of the original “chemigrams” comprise her exhibition, A Brief Infinity.
The abstract patterns are extremely painterly, and while they vary in size, each piece has unique characteristics. At only 6 x 8 inches, ABI_059 (all works 2022) is a layered composition of interrupted horizontal bands in varying opacities of olive green and dark pink. The palette and composition are reminiscent of abstract paintings from the 1950s, yet upon close viewing, the nuances of chemical interactions appear. Many of the images were made by applying metallic paint and varnish, as well as adhering strips of tape to the paper, exposing it to light and then submerging it in a chemical bath. The lines from the tape and speckled array of color splotches are remnants of Hedison’s process. Sometimes, Hedison enhances these patterns by applying more metallic paint to the printed images.
Another small-scale picture, ABI_052 resembles an abstracted snakeskin with golden highlights among striations of white, brown and black. ABI_056 alludes to intricate stained glass windows, its complex geometry a delicate pattern of white, yellow, rust and brown that is reminiscent of details in the works of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Among the highlights of the exhibition are ABI_048, a two-panel work where abstract metallic shapes akin to John Chamberlain car parts recede into a deep yellow void, as well as ABI_045 where vertical strips that appear like different kinds of fabric that descend from the top of the composition. ABI_023 and ABI_022 are printed on glossy metallic paper. Their vivid blue hues become a background for wavy, thick, white-yellow lines that undulate across the composition becoming borders of irregular rectangular shapes.
Hedison’s experiments are complex and evocative. The images transcend their material nature to become spiritual journeys into an unknown world. The photographs draw you in and keep you looking, as the more time one spends with them the more there is to see.
Cover image: ABI_045; all images courtesy of Von Lintel Gallery.