Maureen Paley is pleased to present the fourth solo exhibition at the gallery by James Welling.
Greek and Hellenistic antiquities are the subject of Planograph. I started photographing ancient objects in museums ten years ago and in June I visited Greece for the first time.
When I took up photography in my twenties, I thought of the medium as a time machine. This summer as I processed my digital camera files from Greece to mimic black and white 19th century film—white skies and dark earth tones—I realised that I was looping back to this early intuition about photography. Modelling 19th century technology is a form of time travel, a visual return to the albums of early archaeological expeditions, the first photographic imaginings of Greece.
Recently I discovered flexible plate lithography, a form of planographic printing. Planographic plates print from a flat surface, as opposed to relief printing, such as etching. I image my plates on a laser printer, sponge with water and ink with traditional artist’s oil paint. Rather than printing the result, I present the inked surfaces as photographic objects.
I came to photography through books printed by such legendary houses as the Triton Press, Meridian Gravure and Rapoport Printing. In the matte tonalities and halftone dots of Planograph, I am paying tribute to the 20th century printers who introduced me to photographic seeing. – James Welling
For this exhibition, examples from the Degrade series have been added to punctuate the planographic works.