Social Media

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites from
Reuben Wu: Areoglyphs and Other Nocturnes

This week, photo-eye Gallery’s staff has the pleasure of picking a favorite work from Reuben Wu's solo exhibition Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes on view at photo-eye Gallery through November 16,2019.
Installation view of Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes at photo-eye Gallery

While all of Wu’s photographs in Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes technically feature enigmatic shapes drawn in the air with light above monumental landscapes, each piece feels unique.  From the vivid, yawning halos encircling towering mountain peaks, to subtle shapes that blend seamlessly into ethereal atmospheres, these works manage to feel cohesive, and yet simultaneously stand as stark individuals. This week, photo-eye Gallery’s staff has yet again been charged with the difficult pleasure of picking a favorite work from the current exhibition.

Anne Kelly Selects: LN 0377

Reuben Wu, LN 0377Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950

Anne Kelly
Gallery Director
(505) 988-5152 x121
It has been a busy year for Wu. Just through photo-eye he has exhibited work at photo LA, AIPAD in New York, and now, here in Santa Fe, for his solo show Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes. All the while Wu has continued to produce fresh new images, like those from the recently released Fields of Infinity, which is truly impressive based on the lengths that he goes through to create each piece. I look forward to seeing what comes next. In the meantime, though all of Wu’s images are remarkable, the first image that I connected to, remains my favorite. There is just something particularly haunting about LN 0377 (Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in future III). I believe that my kinship with this image relates to having spent the last 20 years living in the Southwest. Though I have never been to this particular location, and it is not in New Mexico, the expansive geographic formation with the perfect harmony or dark rekindles memories of camping in the desert (in Diablo & Chaco Canyon) when I first relocated from Colorado to Santa Fe. A reminder of the sense of awe that I experienced exploring my new home state — and other places that I plan to explore in the future. 

Alexandra Jo Selects: XT1768

Reuben Wu, XT1768, Archival Pigment Print, 15 x 20 inches, Edition of 10, $950

Alexandra Jo
Gallery Assistant
(505) 988-5152 x116
I’ve always been drawn to the way that Reuben Wu’s photography is able to compress and overlay a sense of time– past and future legible in the present. His clean, futuristic aesthetics combined with references to ancient symbols and the concepts of the land art movement make his work feel tangible, present, and fantastical all at once. My favorite work in the exhibition is XT1768, one of two works in Aeroglyphs from Wu’s most recent body of work, Field of Infinity, which was created this year in Bolivia.  For me, the most successful aspect of this particular work is the tension between movement and stillness, between passing time and a frozen instant, which Wu is able to achieve. The single line of light down the center of the composition evokes images of a portal opening, an origin expanding, or a heavenly body’s trajectory. And yet the stars in the sky around Wu’s illuminated drone are frozen in place, little points of white light flung out into rich blue. The flooded salt flat below reflects the lighted drone path crisply in a field of bleached whites and pastel lavender-blues. The composition contains a symmetry that draws the viewer directly into the horizon and the un-earthy colors contained there. The viewer sees stillness, yet understands that everything in the visual field is truly in motion, from the drone in flight, to the planet spinning amongst the starts. For me, this heightened awareness of and relationship between scales-- micro and macro, man and nature, earth and universe-- is important to realize, and a comfort to imagine.

Lucas Shaffer Selects AE 1144

Reuben Wu, AE 1144, Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950
Lucas Shaffer
Special Projects & Client Relations
(505) 988-5152 x114
If you’re familiar with any of the advertising for Aeroglyphs and Other Nocturnes, than it may come as no surprise that AE 1144 is one of my favorite images from the exhibition. As the individual in charge of designing promotional materials for photo-eye Gallery, I’ve put AE1144 everywhere I could – it’s on the banner outside the gallery, our Facebook cover image, our blog ad, and it’s posted on our homepage. If the word obsession comes to mind, I think that’s a fair assessment.

AE1144 resonates with me because of its striking design and curious emotional impact. Unlike many of the works in Aeroglyphs and Other Nocturnes, AE 1144 gives the viewer more environmental context, there is literally more space and information in the image than Wu usually provides. Using a powerful single-point perspective, Wu illustrates a vibrant green river surrounded by a sloping silhouetted embankment. The composition points toward a trio of precisely-spaced glowing lines hovering at the horizon, and this all is set against the pastel backdrop of the sky at sunset. It’s a high-contrast scene dominated by sumptuous colors, deep black voids, and Wu’s impeccable sense of composition. AE 1144 marries comforting familiar elements with those that seem both otherworldly and unexpected. The effect is both serene and unsettling.

In an interview with Anne Kelly earlier this year, Wu mentioned 19th-Century sublime landscape painting as an inspiration for his work and I feel like that connection is very present in AE 1144. In Romantic period paintings featuring sublime landscapes, artists focused on depicting nature, like craggy mountain cliffs, dark chasms, and roiled seas, to create the feeling of a “pleasurable terror.” While that phrase is a little dramatic, I do think there is something thrilling about trying to comprehend the unknown strength of Nature’s awesome power, even from the safety of the gallery's interior. I think Wu’s work, and AE 1144 in particular, taps into the thrill of the unknown: a complex combination of excitement, curiosity, and anxiety, as it’s related to the future, new technology, and our interaction with the environment. This complexity is one of the reasons I love Wu’s images. The stunning visual design draws you in, but you are also asked to consider deeper questions about the responsible use of technology and the responsible treatment of the natural world, not to mention connections to historical mark-making, and performance. AE 1144 is gorgeous, delightful, and maybe a little dangerous – certainly an image and experience I have enjoyed reviewing on a daily basis.  

Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes is on view at photo-eye Gallery through November 16, 2019. If you live in Santa Fe, or happen to be visiting we'd love to have you stop by.

»Read more about Reuben Wu's Process

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or

Exhibition Catalogue Available for Preorder
(Shipping Late October)

*Limited copies available

Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes: Photographs by Reuben Wu
Kris Graves Projects, Queens, New York, United States, 2019. In English. 30 pp., 16 color plates, 8½x9" 

Book Review Of Infinite Space Photographs by David Loughridge Reviewed by Sarah Bradley David Loughridge, an early Meow Wolf member, passed away at age 33, leaving behind a large archive of stunning unpublished photographs. Curated to match his portfolio and printing style, Of Infinite Space brings together snapshots of daily life with family and friends, conceptual portraits, and a reproduction of “Hall of Fools,” his 2009 solo show at Meow Wolf.
Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.
Of Infinite Space  
Photographs by David Loughridge

Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, 2019. 
Unpaged, 11x10x1¼".

David Loughridge was a born documentarian. His photographic practice began as an irreverent record of adventures with friends at boarding school and grew into a deep fascination with portraiture and street photography.

Upon moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, David’s camera was in constant use: creating thoughtful portraits of his friends and artful behind-the-scenes photographs of the early Meow Wolf collective, of which David was an integral member.

David passed away at 33, leaving behind a large archive of stunning unpublished photographs. Curated to match his portfolio assemblages and printing style, Of Infinite Space brings together snapshots of daily life with family and friends, conceptual portraits, and a reproduction of Hall of Fools, his 2009 solo show at Meow Wolf.

Meow Wolf will be co-hosting an event at photo-eye Project Space to honor David Loughridge and his posthumous monograph, Of Infinite Space.

The opening reception will take place from 5:00pm to 7:00pm on Saturday, October 12th at 1300 Rufina Cir Suite A3. The show is on view through November 30th, 2019.

In anticipation of the opening, photo-eye contributor Sarah Bradley has written some words on Of Infinite Space and her memories of David.

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

Of Infinite Space is a collection of photographs spanning about 15 years of David Loughridge’s life. He started making photographs as a teenager in boarding school in Maine, and continued to use photography as a way to document, describe and understand life up until his death. He was 33 when he passed away. I knew him during his last five years, a time which included working together on a few massive projects with the then DIY art collective Meow Wolf.

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.
I feel like a terrible choice in writing about David’s book, even though it makes perfect sense for me to do so. No amount of looking at or writing about photobooks has prepared me to see this book without personal distortion. It’s a book where I appear in pictures full of people whose names I can rattle off like classmates in a yearbook. The first time I met David was purely by accident. I found a set of keys lying in the dirt near a bike locked up outside of photo-eye Bookstore, back when it was in the little house at the edge of the Downtown Subscription parking lot. Sitting inside a few minutes before, I had noticed my friend Kirstiann from the window walking bikes with someone I didn’t know, so I picked up the keys and went into the coffee shop looking for them.

I have such a clear image of the look on David’s face when I returned the keys to him. The level of gratitude that greeted me would have been memorable even if he hadn’t become a friend a few months later. He was the type of guy you’d call if your car broke down in the middle of the night. I actually did this once, and without any hesitation, he was there.

I feel David’s intensity again in his photographs. He preferred to draw his photographic world in black and white. It’s a world of long exposures and shadow play, of high contrast. I see so much of him in these images. They are both dark and playful, catching himself mid-back flip or radiant eyes peeking through a circle and glowing like a winking moon. Thinking back on those days, many of his images seem oddly still. He captured quiet moments between exuberances with an eye for interior spaces within the frenetic scene. He found us in moments when we may as well have been invisible, individuals tangled in thought. But I remember enough to know that in some of those isolated scenes 50 people are just out of frame.

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

David had a disarming frankness when discussing his bipolar disorder. It was part of him, part of knowing him. Mental illness itself can be a kind of distortion and photography was frequently a coping method for him, perhaps a way to trick the brain back into clearer sight. David would photograph at night when he couldn’t sleep, capturing the glow of city lights and self-portraits, fuzzy long exposures in which he’d sometimes depict himself twice. His first collaboration with Meow Wolf, a solo photography show titled Hall of Fools, included an explicit description of his time in a behavioral and mental health hospital. The text began with “Hello and welcome. My name is David. I have a mental illness called bipolar disorder.” Over the course of the three days the show was open, David invited viewers to draw and write on his photographs, which they eagerly did. A number of adorned images from the show, as well as documentation of its install, are featured in the book. His line introducing his bipolar disorder prompted a note saying, “Me too.”

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

Seeing us through his lens, I recognize layers of David on top of each image. It’s not that he didn’t capture who we were, but his lens distorted us too, and sometimes allowed us distortions of our own designs. Another portfolio briefly featured in the book is a series of nudes that became earnest shared expressions of his friends and their inner selves. Scattered through these pages are projects and candid moments, tender portraits and documentation of shared lives, be they Meow Wolf or with his family. David had a knack for seeing the scenes within scenes, and consistently these images stay with me the most – Nick and Sean gazing at each other while Kirstiann chomps food in the foreground; a nephew learning to stand in a busy kitchen. We are like a Renaissance painting in one of my favorites, sitting around a maquette on the floor at a Meow Wolf meeting, each of us in separate worlds, like our own tiny The School of Athens.

I am too colored with my memories of David to see these photographs without seeing him, but ultimately, I hope others can see him too. Photography was an expression of love for David; it was an act of care, and I hope that his humanity, struggle and kindness will always remain visible.

Order your copy of Of Infinite Space 

RSVP for the Opening

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

Sarah Bradley is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice spans writing, audio, sculpture, installation, and costume. Her writing on photobooks has appeared in photo-eye, IMA, Phroom and Southwest Contemporary. Bradley is a co-founder of the Santa Fe art space Etiquette, a Creative Director at Meow Wolf and a co-host of the Too Sick podcast.

Book Store Interview Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road Photographs by Tim Carpenter Interview by Carlo Brady Carlo Brady sits down with Tim Carpenter to discuss his upcoming book, Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. Here Carpenter takes the viewer on a two-hour walk from point A to point B. Nothing much happens along this brief narrative arc, yet Carpenter explores the stillness of this outdoor space with a palpable, almost erotic anticipation, revealing intimate subtleties as the journey unfolds.
Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.
Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road
Photographs by Tim Carpenter

The Ice Plant, USA, 2019. Unpaged, 9½x11¾x½".

In Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road, his second book with The Ice Plant, Brooklyn-based photographer Tim Carpenter revisits the Central Illinois topography of his first monograph, Local Objects, with a sequence of 56 black-and-white medium-format photographs, all made on a single winter morning.

In Local Objects he meandered this semi-rural Midwestern landscape through changing seasons in an abstract sequence, but here Carpenter follows a straightforward path, literally taking the viewer on a two-hour walk from point A to point B. Nothing much happens along this brief narrative arc—there are fallow fields, standing water, dormant trees, the occasional tire track on worn pavement—yet Carpenter explores the stillness of this outdoor space with a palpable, almost erotic anticipation, revealing intimate subtleties as the journey unfolds.

The following interview took place during a phone conversation between Tim Carpenter and Carlo Brady. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.

Carlo Brady
Hi Tim, I wanted to start with the text written by Mike Slack, that functions as something as a description for the work, though that is more to do with you’re approach to photography.

“…the photographs in Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road are less about the confines of this specific time and place than about a poetic strategy for narrowing the distance between human desire and the factual content of the everyday world.”

Tim Carpenter
Yeah, specific time and place is much less important to me than how, as a maker, you place yourself in relation to the world. There’s a constant flux occurring inside each and every person. This flux varies moment to moment: over time our moods change, we gain and lose things and people, we learn, and we forget. Coupled with how the world is also constantly changing around us, and you’ve got these two forces that you’re just trying to wrangle together for moments of understanding or meaning.

One of the great gifts of the camera is that it equips us with lots of different tools for that placement. An obvious one is our feet: we place ourselves physically within relation to the subject matter. Lenses are another. Some bring us in and out, they flatten or deepen the subject, the characteristics of the lens, and how they are used determine how things get shown, or, how they flatten. Through these tools, relationships are created that have never existed before. That’s what I’m really fascinated by, the way a maker says, “Here is how I feel in relation to this world. Am I happy? Am I sad? Do I love this? Do I hate it?” For me, subject matter is somewhat secondary, although it can reinforce and support the work.

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.

I’m hesitant to ask, but I wonder, how much does the pursuit of a feeling come into play? How do you approach the generation of meaning from that place? Both while photographing, as well as while editing?

It’s funny that you say you’re hesitate to ask that… I wouldn’t hesitate. When I talk to students, I tell them to hone in on what’s in your head. I think that the best pictures are about getting at that ineffable thing, the incredibly strange, idiosyncratic thing going on inside each of us. All of the pictures from the 6 or 7 months I was shooting this book were made in a specific mood that was not necessarily good, but I found it useful. Rather than wallow in it I wanted to see what I could do with it.

However, I’m less interested in a reading of the work in a factual or biographic way. I want a consistent and coherent feeling in a book that gives me something to go on. Of course you’re under the sway of certain emotions whenever you’re making pictures. Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road is particular, since was all made in one day. It became hyper specific about where I was.

As to the second part of your question, distinguishing between the moment of making and then editing and sequencing… Ideally, one’s shaping intelligence picks up where the inspiration leaves off. When it comes to sequencing this is the sustained effort in photography. You can make something in a mood, but in the sequencing, the work is drawn out from the initial inspiration. Flannery O’Connor describes it by saying: “The work must be both canny and uncanny.”

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.

Could you speak about the strategies you have for determining the parameters of a project, or a book, in this case?

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.
My strategy is different from most people I know. I’ve always both admired and been perplexed by people who do research about a place they’ve never been to, or about a profession, or something like that. They say, “I want to learn about that and go shoot it.” I say good on you, because I could never do that. I wouldn’t even know how to start.

I live in Brooklyn, but my parents live in Central Illinois, and that’s where I’m from. I do freelance work here to keep my schedule flexible, and go to Illinois 5 or 6 times a year for a minimum of two weeks. When I go I’m just making pictures. Then I come back and go through all the negatives while I’m also working to make money. Another two months goes by, and I go again.

Things just start to come out after a while. Obviously with this book, for example, I didn’t get up that morning thinking I’d go out and make a book. That just happened. I’m glad for it, but it was just a fortuitous sort of event. Usually it’s over a matter of months or years, where I’ve made a lot of stuff before I see where the strains come about.

I’m also really interested in the idea that the forms of the environment or the picture teach you. Marylyn Robinson says “beauty disciplines,” which I think is another way of saying ‘form disciplines’. She talks about how once she understands a character, limitations arise. Those limitations, however, grant a fuller expression of the chosen subject. In that way, identification of the form and understanding it is not limiting, but rather freeing.

Right, there's a need to meet things as they are, somehow.

Yeah, once you get under the hood, you see what this is. Maybe you see it's almost done, or, maybe that you need a couple more years, or your shooting handheld and you realize you need the movement afforded by a 4x5. You find a way to attend to what you're interested in.

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.

So, I've read the book a few times, and I'm quite taken by the movement of the images. There's not a whole lot of friction. Enough to keep it interesting, but it hardly draws attention to itself. In the latest reading I got the feeling that I'm walking backwards.

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.
The book is basically laid out as shot. Occasionally I moved a picture forward or back, mostly in the double page spreads just to make them read properly. So that part of the sequencing was easy, it is what it is. The past couple years I've been reading a lot of poetry theory, and I’m really interested in photographs trying to get further away from the description of an experience and closer to evoking the experience itself. To do that is basically what I think what a true poem is. It short circuits the language, so it's not telling you about something but is making the thing happen within you. The picture is the thing. It's not the description of the thing. The poem is the thing.

We make connections, we break them, we look for things, we say there's hope in that, and we second guess. We third guess. This is something I also get from David Foster Wallace's writing, seeing how that guy's brain worked. How he would write it all out. Here's an idea, here's a sub-note to the idea, here's a footnote to that, but wait, let's go back.

I love the idea of walking backwards. That’s why I structured it in this way. Where there's motifs that appear for two, three, or four pictures before disappearing, only to come back again. If there's a protagonist in this book, its a very unsure protagonist. They’re always looking for something to hold on to and continually rejecting those decisions; looking over his or her shoulder and saying no, trying to make meaning of the very barest things.

Before publishing, I showed the pdf of the book to a notable photographic bookmaker. I don't want to put them on the hook, but they said “I don’t like pictures on the left hand with a blank on the right. Cause I feel like you're looking backwards.” I didn't tell him at the time, but I was really glad because that's what I wanted.

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.

You've mentioned a number of authors and reading, what other sort of work to do you do as a mean of cultivating... should I say presence, or voice, relating to your image making?

It's something that I'm very interested in, and I like that you used the word cultivating. Mark Steinmetz says that a lot. When I talk with students or younger people, and tell them to to hone in on that strange, idiosyncratic thing that is you, that is cultivation.

There’s a little restaurant in my dad's hometown that has the most sensational cheeseburger with bacon and onions that I've ever had. I draw as much inspiration from that place and that burger as anything. Every piece of music you listen to, every novel, as well as the things you don’t like, the things you reject. I try and really bring all that in.

So, this is very topical. I was talking with a friend the other day, and I was being a little hyperbolic, but was saying Ric Ocasic probably meant as much to me as Robert Frank. He got me as a teenager with a handful of songs that I love unabashedly. In some ways they're more a part of me than when I grew up a little and got a copy of The Americans. That's not to down play Frank, but even a band like The Cars, that's definitely not the most important band of all time, can become a part of you. Just grab all those little bits that you love.

I think a lot about music. Van Morrison's song structures, for example, can be very long. He repeats phrases and teases things out. He makes that song a moment, rather than an artifact of a different moment. His 10 and 11 minute long songs underlay this book, in particular.

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road. By Tim Carpenter.

One of the things that I find really heartening looking at your images is the attention I see paid to an internal state, which doesn't feel at all indulgent, but finds recourse in the landscape and invites meaning into it.

Sometimes people ask, “When are you going to go to somewhere else?” Now it has been eight or 10 years that I've been shooting only there. The cameras and film are only there. I don't do anything else anywhere else. These few counties are inexhaustible so far as I can tell.

More importantly, when I was telling you about the flux inside and outside, I feel like there is at least one way for me to control one variable. In that I'm still changing, but at least it's the same place. The seasons change, the light changes, but I'm not going to the mountains or the ocean, London or Chicago. Returning to the same place helps me really see the differences. It may sound semantic, but it lets me see how I'm seeing them. There's a tree up against a house that I put in Local Objects four times and once in Township, the book I did with Ray Meeks. Since then, its owner has cut it down, and I was just like, sad. It was a shitty tree and it didn't matter to anything, but I just really love noticing these things and being really in tune with them. I can't imagine going anywhere else because I'm still so in love with this place.

Purchase the Book

Tim Carpenter is a photographer and writer who works in Brooklyn and central Illinois. He is the author of Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road, Local objects, and Township, among other books, as well as a co-founder of TIS books.

Carlo Brady works at photo-eye Bookstore as a photobook specialist. He holds a BA in photography and studio arts from Hampshire College. You can reach him at

photo-eye Gallery New Work
Three New Series by Bob Cornelis

photo-eye Gallery is proud to debut three new series of palladium prints by Bob Cornelis, Above the Fold, Geometria, and Secret Universe , on the Photographer's Showcase.

Bob Cornelis, Geometria 5, 2019, Palladium Print, 9 x 9" Image, 15.5 x 15" Mat, Edition of 10, $950

Since his debut on the Photographer's Showcase in 2015, it's clear Bob Cornelis is captivated by abstraction's expressive effects, obsessed with materials, and produces sumptuous palladium prints. In his three new bodies of work, Cornelis expands his practice by examining the "clean and classic" beauty of geometrically folded paper in Above the Fold, demonstrating the relationship art and mathematics have in abstraction in Geometria, and building perspective through attempting to visualise the vastness of space in Secret Universe. Below, Cornelis was generous enough to share a short statement detailing his thought process and inspirations surrounding each project.

We are proud to debut Above the Fold, Geometria, and Secret Universe today on the Photographer's Showcase, 9 x 9-inch prints in each project are available in an edition of 10 for $950 each.

Bob Cornelis — Above the Fold

"The project Above the Fold was inspired by the work of an obscure 19th-century Indian mathematician, T. Sundara Row, in his book Geometric Exercises in Paper Folding. Row showed how geometric proofs could be made easier to visualize and understand by using simple sheets of paper and folding them to create many of the linear shapes required in depicting rectangles, triangles, etc.

I have been working with paper as a subject for many years - I love its simplicity and malleability. Paper has a unique and almost endless potential to assume many appearances. In Row's hands, folded paper was made to exhibit both highly functional and surprisingly artistic aspects.

Above the Fold takes that as a starting point to present geometrically folded paper as a subject of clean and classic beauty."
– Bob Cornelis

• • • • •

Bob Cornelis — Geometria

"Art and mathematics share an essential characteristic - both use symbols to pictorially represent abstract concepts. I have always been fascinated by abstraction in my work, so a project exploring this connection made sense and Geometria was born.

In the art world, the practice of abstraction gained momentum in the 19th century when form began to be thought of separately from color and abstract art focused increasingly on structure rather than imitation or interpretation. In the world of mathematics, geometry is perhaps the most visual field of study. And it was also in the 19th century that geometry went through a revolution in which Euclidean geometry, the only recognized form, was joined by non-Euclidian geometries as co-equal ways of depicting the world.

Geometria uses a number of the elements and tools of geometry to represent abstract shapes and patterns that are often found in the art world as well. I created 2-dimensional shapes such as circles and triangles, 3-dimensional platonic solids such as cubes and octahedrons, geometric constructions using a compass and straight edge, coordinate systems with grids, etc to allow me to create multi-layered combinations of these symbols.

My goal with Geometria is to demonstrate the relationship of art to mathematics and to show how beauty is inherent in both."
 – Bob Cornelis

• • • • •

Bob Cornelis — Secret Universe

"Supernovas, black holes, red dwarfs, dark nebulae, stellar streams…

Our vast universe is filled with fantastical objects, some observed, many only the subject of speculation - there are undoubtedly many more of which we have not yet conceived. Supposition about new celestial phenomena has been a favorite pastime of human beings for a long time, from early astrological divination to more modern science fiction. We’ve always wanted to understand our place in the grand scheme of things, an endeavor only recently moving solely from the realm of imagination to that of scientific understanding.

Secret Universe invites you to join me for a moment in my own contemplation of the wonders and curiosities of a universe that might share qualities with our own. It is an imaginary place filled with spheres, vortexes, planes and clouds moving in lockstep with or in opposition to each other or sitting in silent stillness against the black void of the infinite. Here you will find juxtaposed the overwhelming dynamism and the unsettling tranquility of deep space.

Secret Universe is entirely a creation of my mind. Much of my work relies on abstraction - I’m less interested in the realistic depiction of our world than on ways in which our minds make sense of it by extracting and repurposing what we take as real. As I explored the play of these simple shapes and the way they interacted with each other in the small space of my studio, I began to conceive of them as being vastly larger in an incalculably vaster space.

They’ve transformed into a secret universe, born of my imagination, that enables me to consider my place in the scheme of things."
– Bob Cornelis

• • • • •

Bob Cornelis – New Work

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact
photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or

» View All Works by Bob Cornelis

» Read More about Cornelis' Prints

photo-eye Gallery 
541 S. Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501 

Book Of The Week Peuple de la Nuit Photographs by Sanlé Sory Reviewed by Blake Andrews Peuple de la Nuit is a tribute to the people who posed with cheery abandon, for the lens of Sanlé Sory from 1960 to 1983. While Sory spent days at his Volta Photo studio in southern Burkina Faso, his nights were spent capturing a flourishing music scene, youth culture, dance parties, weddings and portraits of his home city.
Peuple de la Nuit. By Sanlé Sory.
Peuple de la Nuit  
Photographs by Sanlé Sory

Stanley/Barker, London, United Kingdom, 2019.
88 pp., black-and-white illustrations, 10¾x10¾".

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A photographer’s lifework is discovered by a curatorial champion. Their work gains attention overnight. The photographer is plucked from obscurity and joins the canon as an A-Lister. The recent case of Vivian Maier and John Maloof is fresh on everyone’s minds. But even before her ascendance, the pattern had repeated many times. Gary Stochl’s discovery by Bob Thall, Mike Disfarmer’s discovery by Peter Miller, Malick Sidibé’s discovery by Françoise Hugier, E.J. Bellocq’s discovery by Lee Friedlander, Jacques-Henri Lartigue’s discovery by Charles Rado, Eugene Atget’s discovery by Berenice Abbot, and so on.

Les Deux AMI 8, 1975. By Sanlé Sory.
To the list, we can now add Ibrahima Sanlé Sory—or Sanlé Sory, as he’s listed as author of the new monograph from Stanley Barker, Peuple de la Nuit. Or perhaps it’s Sory Sanlé, the reverse naming used in several recent articles? Regardless of moniker, he was born in 1943, apprenticed with Ghanaian photographer Kodjo Ademako, then began photographing his home city of Bobo-Dioulasso in 1960, the very year Burkino Faso (then known as Upper Volta) declared its independence. He opened his own photo studio, followed by a steady commercial career shooting locally. Sory was talented. Yes. But celebrated? Not so much, at least not outside of the region.

That all changed six years ago, thanks largely to the efforts of Florent Mazzoleni, a French music producer who noticed the nice portraiture on a few obscure African album covers and began digging. One thing led to another. Soon enough Mazzoleni found himself at Sory’s doorstep, arriving just as the old master—then in his 70s—was burning a pile of unwanted negatives. Hold it!

Yacouba Zero, 1970. By Sanlé Sory.

Fortunately, most of Sory’s archive remained intact. It was a massive oeuvre, mostly from the 1960s through 1980s, a mix of studio portraits, commercial/editorial work, and self-assigned reportage accessed by roving motorbike. “I was just in the right place at the right time,” Sanlé said in a later interview. “I saw how countryside traditions mingled with modern city life. People were eager for – I couldn’t help but see that through my lens.” He’d captured a snapshot of an era, one relatively unknown to the outside world. All it required was a bit of TLC. With Mazzoleni’s help, Sory whipped his archive into shape. A website and film followed (both by Mazzoleni), then a steady upward trajectory of shows, books, articles, and increased interest among collectors. Yossi Milo, David Hill, The Art Institute of Chicago…

Valse à Bobo, 1968. By Sanlé Sory.
Which brings us to Peuple De La Nuit. In contrast to past, broader efforts, this book winnows the focus to just a small sliver of the Sory pie, the free-spirited denizens of the Bobo-Dioulasso night club scene. This was a culture of dancing, flamboyant outfits, and buoyant mood, all set amid a rather stark physical environment of brick and stucco. Judging by Sory’s photos, he made himself at home there, shooting freely, and setting his subjects at ease. Most of them pose casually for the camera. Some are caught in candid reverie. All seem relaxed and natural, happy to be photographed before carrying on into the night. It’s a feel-good book, with a celebratory joie de vivre that is infectious.

Sory had a direct photographic style. There’re no fancy juxtas or games, just subjects centered in the frame. Although his bright flash provided plenty of light, he often opened up the aperture to limit the depth of field, and its sometimes haphazard placement in the frame adds a dynamism lacking with today’s high ISO infinite DOF capabilities. The straight portraits carry the weight of the photos. But it’s the small details that push them over the top. Bell-bottom pants and beehive headgear keep the eyes roving, while a never-ending variety of hand gestures keeps the mind guessing. Odd posters taped to walls—The Beatles? White bra models? Porn shots?—raise questions about the racial dynamics of idolatry.

Le trois cowboys de la brousse, 1971. By Sanlé Sory.

The simple fact is that for a contemporary Western audience, these photos show a largely unknown time and place. So there’s a vacuum aspect at play, as we greedily suck up information from within the frames. Ah, so those are the plants of Burkino Faso, and the utility poles, and the containers? The small facts come in a steady deluge. But the best are the photos so bizarre that they defy easy ingestion. Pictures like Le trois cowboys de la brousse, 1971; Le amoureux timides, 1975; and Laissez-moi entrer!, 1967 are just plain ineffable (even for French speakers). Their exoticism might invite comparisons to the famous Malian portraitists Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé. Their triumphant gaze might recall the best of Kwame Brathwaite. But perhaps a better comparison—career arc and all—can be found on the other end of the continent, in the odd night-club shenanigans captured by Billy Monk in South Africa.

L'équilibriste, 1972. By Sanlé Sory.
There’ve been a few books already of Sory’s photos (and probably more to come). Peuple de la Nuit is merely the latest. But it stands above the crowd for a few reasons. As I mentioned above, the edit hews closely to one specific subject. But the big difference is in the production. Stanley Barker’s dark, luscious tones—snatched from the contrasty night, like his subjects—are perfectly suited to the subject matter. I also love the unusual typeface used in text and captions throughout. I can’t identify it, except that it’s thick, bubbly and leans strangely left. Inset this font into a burnt orange cover and you’ve got one heckuva beautiful typographical diversion. The odd typeface then carries over inside, to the introduction and photo captions. It’s atypical, unsettling, and thoughtful. As are the photos. As is the book.

Purchase Book

Read More Book Reviews

Surprise party en ville. 1974. By Sanlé Sory.

Blake Andrews is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at