Colin Dodgson’s sun-kissed, spontaneous photography

by -501 views

In Colin Dodgson’s new exhibition ‘Individual Island,’ the middle takes a while to arrange to what it’s looking at. There are portraits. There are still lifes. There are landscapes brushed with colour. But in between these more legible subjects, stranger things appear in his photographs. Fish covered in blue tape eventually reveal themselves to exist the dorsum of a chair. A pockmarked landscape becomes, on second glance, a poorly shaven armpit. These are not visual tricks so much as experiments with line and color, everyday moments rendered surprising when seen close-upwardly or from an unexpected angle.

The Californian photographer has been thinking a lot recently virtually how digestible photography should be. Besides often, he says, it’s a medium that comes complete with captions and firsthand context — everything neatly explained and named. “You’re showing something, yous’re telling someone about something… It merely keeps leaning on this crutch, [this] safety of explanation,” he says. In his new exhibition, showing at ane Oliver Street until May 28, the focus is purely visual. Like a painting, these photos aim to provoke an emotional response even if you lot know nothing about where they were fabricated or what they feature.

What viewers might be able to discern is
made them. Colin’south style is immediately recognisable, even in brainchild. His photographic world is a golden one: illuminated by the yolky between-light that marks the shift of day into night or vice versa, frequently featuring saturated landscapes and sun-kissed skin. This is not to suggest that Colin takes himself also seriously. A vein of humour runs through his work too, an energetic appreciation of the unstudied gesture, the telling detail.

‘Private Island’ is his offset exhibition in New York in more than a decade and is named afterward his studio in California. “It’s a play on words,” he explains. His London darkroom was called ‘Rapid Center’. At starting time, he considered naming this studio in his domicile country ‘The Private Eye’ in homage. Instead, he landed on ‘Individual Island’. “I go to go in and do any I want… I get lost in there,” he tells us. This infinite for privacy and deliberation is important for Colin. “Every bit a lensman, you spend a lot of fourth dimension [doing]… I gauge you nigh call information technology fieldwork. You’re out, you’re working with people or you’re in nature,” he explains. “It’southward good to come up dorsum into yourself and spend time thinking most why the piece of work is good, or if it’s good. It’s another layer of editing, some other step in the procedure.”


This push button-pull between immersion and solitude is an integral function of the creative process. “I was just in Albania for i-D doing a project for 5 days,” he says. “Every day you lot wake upwardly before dawn, you’re in a car, every 2nd of your mean solar day is totally immersed in making piece of work. I think what’south great about having that separation and that space… for yourself [afterward], is that y’all’re immune to turn off a little bit.” The final stride is releasing the images into the world. “A couple of years back, I realised that if photographs don’t physically exist in some style, they don’t really achieve their final goal,” Colin adds. “[It’s] the ultimate culmination of the entire process, specially when information technology’due south something equally rigorous every bit making prints in the darkroom.”

An exhibition is non the merely possible destination. Alongside a steady stream of editorial work — Colin shot i-D’s
Spring 2022 cover featuring
Squid Game
star Hoyeon — he was recently the third lensman to contribute to the annual St Moritz Souvenir series. Following in the footsteps of Torbjørn Rødland and Roe Ethridge, Colin turned his lens on the swanky Alpine resort. It’s one of the dandy pleasures of his job: the hazard to footstep into a place for a condensed menstruation of time, existing in a state of heightened attention.

He likens this to the refined concentration offered past a residency, noting that outside of piece of work, he’due south “much more inclined to simply go surfing and try to take a normal life. But when I become and do these things, I pick up the camera, I actually think nigh everything for this 10-day catamenia.”


Alongside ‘Private Eye’, Colin also put on a second surprise exhibition final weekend. ‘Vjosa’ is the first evidence to be held at the new space DAKOTA, located at 110 Bowery in New York. “I don’t know why I do this to myself,” he quips when asked near the challenges of putting on two exhibitions at once. ‘Vjosa’ features lxx photos from that trip to Albania. “Information technology’southward totally unedited,” he says, pointing out that this is a divergence from his usual way of working. “I was only similar, ‘you know what, fuck it!’ We’ll let everyone run across and feel and be immersed in that experience with a big, site-specific installation.”

Both exhibitions marking a welcome return to Colin’s old stomping ground. The photographer lived in New York for seven years in the mid-2000s, and all the same has great affection for the urban center’s artistic spirit. “During that time, I was doing little exhibitions… I really wanted this to be similar a more grown-up version of those old shows I would accept [put on in] an former Bodega,” he says. “To be in Manhattan, and to be an artist, and doing all this stuff — information technology’due south just and so focused and centralised. It makes it easy to talk with other artists. Information technology’due south prissy to be back doing that.” It’s a salient reminder. An artist might take to retreat into isolation now and then, just they need people and life and dialogue besides.

“Equally dissever every bit I am existence in California, it’s actually important to take a grouping of peers that you think are making interesting work,” he adds. “I almost wanted to phone call the evidence ‘No Man is a Individual Isle’. You can practise certain things by yourself, but you tin can’t really get to the betoken where it matters without having help or a community around your work.”



All images courtesy of Colin Dodgson