EXHIBITIONS / SHOWS
Jeremy Kidd depicts both natural and urban landscapes in his work. The images that stand out most clearly are complex photographs of major cities. Architecture is an old theme in photography: the immovability and clear structure of buildings exert great appeal. Yet it is these core values that Kidd completely overturns. Streets unfold beyond the ‘ordinary’ frame of a photograph, drawing the viewer’s gaze inward. His photographs contain a plethora of details, light and colour contrasts, and sometimes day and nocturnal scenes blended together. Kidd’s distortions of buildings and his mixed vantage points soon sow confusion, prompting questions as to what you are looking at. To Kidd the also a sculptor it is not the beauty of buildings but their shapes and light contrasts that make them interesting as sculptural elements in a photograph. He depicts busy cities without people in them, and yet the dramatic quality that is created displays their true quality as lively cities.
Kidd sees his work as related to the sublime. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, artists tried to depict the feelings that the expansive, beautiful and at the same time menacing natural world aroused in them, linking these feelings to the insignificance of human beings. Kidd’s work does not evoke a sense of unease or danger, but it does convey the uncontrollable nature of the man-made city. As viewers we have never seen the city like this: through Kidd’s eyes the images are overwhelming – and indeed partake of the sublime.
As a painter, Kidd is conscious of the history of painting and draws inspiration from it in his work as a photographer. Kidd was deeply moved by the grandeur and drama of the American landscape. He felt an affinity with the nineteenth-century Romantic painters of the Hudson River School. They painted grand, idealised landscapes around the Hudson River in New York State, frequently with dramatic skies, as are also found in Kidd’s work.
Kidd incorporates the elements of time and movement into his work. He shoots photographs of the same place over a long period of time and then incorporates the different times and conditions into his artwork. The Impressionists too sometimes made several paintings of the same place. Like traditional landscape painters, Kidd elaborates the ‘sketches’ he has made outside later in the studio.
Kidd’s work testifies clearly to his early training as a sculptor. The physical shape, undulations and cutouts make the photograph into what is virtually a wall sculpture. These devices encourage the viewer to think about what a photograph is, in much the same way that modern painters experimented and reflected on the essence of a painting. In some of Kidd’s works (not displayed here) he quotes elements from the landscape by adding sculptures to the photographic installations. This creates an interesting tension between traditional photography and sculpture.
KIDD & MESDAG
In the months of preparation that would culminate in the making of his panorama, Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) used not only his own sketches but also photographs of the area around the Seinpost Dune in Scheveningen. These he commissioned in 1880 from Heinrich Wilhelm Wollrabe (1843–1928), whose photographs show some of the details that can be seen in the panorama.
Jeremy Kidd in turn studied the same area around the Seinpost Dune and created a spectacular impression of Scheveningen especially for this exhibition. The spaces between the freestanding buildings in the panorama have since been completely filled in. With the aid of colour and light contrasts, Kidd nonetheless manages to subtly accentuate these monumental old buildings.
If you look closely at Scheveningen Pier I (red rooms) you will be struck by the patch of light in the sky (distress flare) that appears above the bright lights around the end of the pier. But this is a different quality of light than that of the festive boulevard with the silhouette of the famous Kurhaus. Here Kidd has captured a rescue operation at sea, just as Mesdag too depicted several ships in distress in his day.
In the artworks depicting Scheveningen that Kidd made for this exhibition we see his familiar themes of the city and the natural world. But there is also an allusion to the career of Hendrik Willem Mesdag. For he too focused on cityscapes as a young man, before he became known as the famous painter of the North Sea coast and the life of Scheveningen fishing village.