Hales Gallery is pleased to present Los Loss, a solo show of Mexican still-life photographs by the South African artist Trevor Appleson.
Appleson’s formal photographs are created outside; a large black screen is mounted on legs with a metal frame to become the backdrop for the work. Taken at either dawn or dusk when the light is at its best, the screen is used to reduce the amount of extraneous visual information, presenting the viewer with a stark point of focus.
Appleson’s past projects have centred on a wide range of subjects and venues. His Cape Town beach community series made between 2000-2004 featured the forgotten and lawless; Tel Aviv works of 2005-2006 presented contrasting venues of a Kibbutz and the Israeli army. Last year (2006) Appleson began to break away from the portrait format and produced a series of still lifes in Rome, continuing this approach in Mexico City and its surrounding villages this year (2007).
Los Loss features staged and co-incidental compositions, involving the locals of Mexico in the creation of the works. The bright colours and exotic people on the tourist trail left their mark on Appleson but he challenges the obvious and digs beneath the surface of Mexico City and its surroundings. Mexican Wrestlers destroy traditional candy filled Piñatas, resulting in broken and burned cartoon-ish forms; a group of young boxers with their clumsy gloved hands attempt to break eggs into a bowl – egg mixture on the dusty desert – this is the focus and subject matter for his work.
Pictures that at first sight seem to be representations of the rural idle, on closer inspection reveal graves and brutish industrial farming. An image of a pig, its leg tethered to a post initially seems to be in a tranquil repose until it becomes clear on closer inspection the pig has been slaughtered and left in the dust.
What ties all of these apparently classical still lifes together is Appleson’s ability to avoid the obvious and his enthusiasm for developing a whole new way of involving the locals in the creation of the works.