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Gallery Favorites: Christopher Colville – Flux

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites
Christopher Colville – Flux
Anne, Lucas, and Alexandra highlight three notable images from Flux, currently on view at photo-eye Gallery through Saturday June, 22nd.

Christopher Colville’s exhibition of unique, camera-less, gun-powder generated photographs, titled Flux, opened at photo-eye Gallery on April 26th to an intrigued, perplexed, and ultimately enraptured audience. Colville’s one-of-a-kind photographs are enthralling in both their creation and their visual presence. It is easy to get wrapped up in the thrill and mystery of the process when looking at photographs created without a camera by igniting gunpowder directly onto photographic paper onsite in the desert at night. Indeed, understanding that process can be an important aspect of looking at and responding to these explosive abstract images. However, Colville’s work also has the distinct ability to speak directly to individual viewers on a powerful personal level. Each piece uniquely evokes fantastical landscapes, captures bursts of violent action, opens up enigmatic celestial maps, or creates murky, gossamer atmospheric texture in a way that allows each viewer to enter the work in their own way. This week the photo-eye Gallery staff was charged with the seemingly-impossible task of picking a favorite piece out of this compelling and captivating exhibition. Read more on their selections below.

Anne Kelly Selects Dark Hours Horizon 101

Christopher Colville, Dark Hours Horizon 101, Unique Silver Gelatin Print, 3x12" Image, $3,180, Framed

Anne Kelly
Gallery Director
(505) 988-5152 x121
The works by Christopher Colville that are included in our current exhibition Flux are unique photographs that are made without the use of a camera, but with simply the essence of photography–light. Each composition is pure abstraction which is the orchestrated result of tiny gunpowder-fueled explosion on moonless nights in the Arizona desert.  Though the images are abstract, I have noticed that gallery visitors have started to see objects within the imagery like planets, rocket-ships, cactus', and more. The piece that I’ve fallen in love with is Dark Hours Horizon 101, a tiny tryptic that reminds me of a stormy desert landscape. So there you have it, I continue to be attracted to unique, expressive landscapes that connect to my own personal experience. I also love the scale of this piece, it just asks you to slow down and take a closer looks at the surface and beyond. Over the horizon hang stormy clouds where an epic storm is blowing in. The surface of this print almost looks like rusted metal, and on closer inspection, there is just a touch of iridescence, which I recently learned is possible in certain rare clouds. Dark Hours Horizon 101 is a tiny abstracted landscape created by a small explosion–what is not to love?

Lucas Shaffer Selects Fluid Variant 2

Christopher Colville, Fluid Variant 2, 2015, Unique Silver Gelatin Print, 12x15" Image, $3,550, Framed

Lucas Shaffer
Special Projects & Client Relations
(505) 988-5152 x114
Like my colleagues, I had a difficult time highlighting just a single image from Christopher Colville's impressive collection in Flux. This is my favorite type of photography, it's tactile, experimental, material-based, cameraless, and unique. Fluid Variant 2 stands out for me due to its bold design, sense of balance, and expressive nature. A precise, but broken, diagonal, bisects the picture plane perfectly separating light from dark, the concrete from the organic. The effect is striking. A burst of energy erupting from the center dramatically joins these two disconnected planes breaking the diagonal, evenly cutting the image again vertically, and throwing the lighter portion into fluttering chaos. Paired with Colville's rich rust-colored print tone the overarching effect of Fluid Variant 2 is earthly and elemental. More than any other work I've seen recently, Colville's images seem physical, their representations of movement, weight, texture, and material are extraordinary. I've probably already spent hours viewing Fluid Variant 2 delighting in its consummate aesthetic and meditating on its dynamic paradoxes. Overall, the image is enigmatic with an impressive design that leaves room for personal interpretation and reflection.

Alexandra Jo Selects Dark Hours Horizon 87

Christopher Colville, Dark Hours Horizon 87, Unique Silver Gelatin Print, 3.5 x 4.38" $1,280, Framed

Alexandra Jo
Gallery Assistant
(505) 988-5152 x116
In a recent conversation with Christopher Colville, we discussed the writing of Cormac McCarthy, as Colville uses a quote from Blood Meridian in one of his artist statements that happens to be a favorite of mine. In the discussion, we spoke about the landscape of the desert, in which Blood Meridian takes place, and what that specific environment means to each of us. Colville's entire process often takes place outside at night in the open desert. We agreed that there is a violence to that landscape, but also a specific loveliness, and talked about McCarthy’s ability to articulate darkness and beauty simultaneously. For me, Colville’s work is also able to do that; it emphasizes the dichotomy and symbiosis between light and dark, and reveals the allure of the shadow.

Dark Hours Horizon 87 was my favorite work in Flux the instant we pulled it out of its shipping crate. The image is one from Colville’s Dark Hours series, which features mostly smaller works, each resembling desolate and mysterious landscapes. The placement of gunpowder in lines and ridges on the photographic paper implies a physical horizon line when ignited to create the image, allowing these camera-less photographs to obliquely point to the environment in which they were created.

Dark Hours Horizon 87 in particular is only 4 x 5 inches and offers an intimate examination of Colville’s mercurial physical process, drawing the viewer in with flashes of iridescence in the dark, ethereal atmosphere of its “horizon.” The colors of the image range from rust to copper to metallic blues and greens, down through magentas and deepest blacks. The way the smoke and light from this explosion swoops skyward conjures images of ravenous prairie fires, wind-swept cloud formations over vast desert mesas, and the feeling of standing alone and vulnerable in the openness of nature under boundless stars and galaxies. Ultimately for me, the power of this tiny image lies in its ability to evoke the colossal, enduring power and chaos of nature and the cosmos that has always been beyond complete human reckoning.

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Christopher Colville: FLUX
On view through Saturday, June 22nd

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 505-988-5152 x202 or
All works listed were available for at the time this post was published.