The Beginning Anticipates the End, 2014
Archival Pigment Print

The Dryansky Gallery is pleased to present Private Views, Hidden Reflections, an exhibition of images from San Francisco-based narrative photographer Stephen Albair. Albair, born in 1942, is a long-time resident of San Francisco and an internationally exhibiting artist. Private Views, Hidden Reflections will mark Albair’s first solo exhibition in San Francisco in ten years, featuring a selection of his works from the last decade that present complex and provocative scenes incorporating an astute sense of wit. The exhibition will be on view from September 17 through October 29, 2015 with an opening reception on Thursday, September 17, 2015 between 6 and 8 pm. The artist will be in attendance.

In what can be called a variation on tableau or narrative photography because of the emphasis of mise en scène, Albair goes through a creative process—often drawing from autobiographical sources—resulting in imagery that stirs up memory, nostalgia, irony and the enduring trilogy of human emotions: love, loss and longing.

Albair captures carefully assembled scenes with a simple 1970 Nikon 35-mm camera in the midday light of his living room window. This room, which doubles as a studio, serves as the center for Albair’s creative practice where the construction of signature sets or stages are made. It typically takes about 1–3 months to produce a single image, with the majority of the time spent building the intricate, elaborate scenes, before they are photographed on film. The scene is then broken down to make room for the next tableau. Albair explains:

These works are more about process than the photograph, and are closely associated with sculpture, painting and the materials used. I make a conscious effort to amuse the viewer by presenting situations that, ripe for ironic humor, merge with the viewer’s own complex notions about the images. I attempt to refine my work where it presents a paradox: toys within a world that playfully exposes the surreal nature of reality and emphasizes what is real—not realistic.

In his piece titled “How Dare You Not Be Me!” Albair builds an evocative parent-child domestic scene, carefully assembling collected miniature figurines, discarded toys and other small found objects, as well as his own hand-crafted narrative objet d’art, placing them within a richly saturated backdrop of both flat and patterned surfaces. In Night Journey, a loot laden row boat is seen moored against the backdrop of a vintage postcard of a richly lit Golden Gate Bridge at dusk. Found driftwood completes the scene offering a suggestive narrative of a landing or departure gone awry.

While semi-autobiographical in nature, echoing the artist’s challenges, successes and failures within life’s ambiguities, the works in Private Views, Hidden Reflections cut across cultural and generational boundaries. Albair’s found objects are like words in a poem, charged with innocence and grace. Despite the seeming simplicity of his tools, methodology and execution, Albair’s unique mise en scène of found objects proves itself to be a most compelling method to communicate the deepest realms of human emotion and experience.

Stephen Albair currently teaches Art History and Design at Las Positas College. In the past decade he exhibited locally at Rayko Photo Gallery, Bolinas Museum, Garage Gallery, and Pro Arts Gallery and internationally at RMA Institute, Thavibu Gallery and Kathmandu Photo Gallery in Bangkok, Thailand. He has held academic or lecture positions with a number of institutions such as: The New School in New York City, Parsons School of Design, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Columbia University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Texas A&M University. In addition he exhibited his narrative jewelry and metal work at numerous galleries including the American Crafts Museum in New York, the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery, and the La Mama Galleria in New York City.

The Dryansky Gallery opened its doors in Fall 2014 to create a vibrant impact on San Francisco’s art scene. With a unique approach to the way artwork is exhibited and encountered, the gallery offers a fresh and thoughtfully curated program of emerging and mid-career artists from around the world who are working across all mediums, with an emphasis on 21st century photography. The family-run gallery, with its extensive international network and lifelong devotion to the arts, creates an environment of discovery and conversation for its patrons through openings, artist talks, cultural events, multidisciplinary discourse and a critical engagement with the artists’ work. www.thedryansky.com2120 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
[email protected] | (415) 932-9302

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