|West and South, Photographs by John Mathews. |
Published by Hatje Cantz, 2011.
Reviewed by John Mathews
Charles Brittin West and South
Photographs by Charles Brittin. Edited by Kristine McKenna, Lorraine Wild, Roman Alonso, Lisa Eisner.
Hatje Cantz, 2011. Hardbound. 216 pp., 150 duotone illustrations, 9-1/2x13".
West and South begins in the late 1950s by looking at an idiosyncratic group of young artists, actors and writers living in Venice Beach, California. This ragtag bohemian community is drawn together by the artists Wally and Shirley Berman who feature throughout the series. Photographer Charles Brittin successfully captures the offbeat characteristics of this group -- their exuberance, individuality and playful sense of defiance. The images have an innocent and melancholy tone to them, as if the people within them have been captured in a fragile state of transition. The enigmatic nature of the Venice series is accentuated by Brittin's technique of interspersing haunting images of the area such as empty fairgrounds or black clad nuns wandering an otherwise deserted beach. However there is an underlying tension within the area, which is evident in a number of images showing the harassment and closure of beat venues by local authorities.
John Mathews is an artist and curator from Belfast, Northern Ireland.