Retrospective: Goeun Museum, Busan, Korea
Project info

The works of Ralph Gibson a master of surrealistic photography will be presented by Goeun Museum of Photography as the Museum’s third international exchange exhibition following the previous two that had presented Bernard Faucon of France and contemporary German photography. Ralph Gibson is a distinguished American photographer with a style of his own, a key artist inheriting the legacy of 20th contemporary photography that started from Robert Frank and William Klein. Contemporary photography goes beyond photography’s traditional boundary of testifying certain events or their significance and documentation of the facts. It is distinctive because it regards photography as a type of “sense” and expands its domain as an expressive media to reveal the inner sides. Gibson uses photography not just as a media that visually recreates the object but as a tool to express his inner feelings, imaginations, or the unconscious mind that radiate through the recreation. Not only that, but in order to sensualize such abstract theme as dream or desire, he has simplified the composition as much as he can and constructed an architectural space.

Starting from his books ?The Somnambulist?, ?Deja vu?, and ?Days at Sea? that were published in the 1970s, Ralph Gibson unveiled a world of new senses. The surrealism he presents isn’t just about escaping or eliminating the reality but is a recreation as a kind of “reminder” based on reality. In other words, he captures in a suspenseful frame the dream world of unconsciousness that is another reflection of the reality and through that frame he reveals the subtle atmosphere from the daily life or the “familiar” impressions. This is a profound character that distinguishes Gibson from any other surrealist photographers who shows the unconscious mind by using photographical technics to invert reality. A surrealistic structure based on reality – Gibson captures reality but shows only part of it or in pieces through geometrical structure and delicate balances in order to pursue a surreal world from the unusual frames. To him, being partial is an important sign to show another sense of comprehensiveness that being whole does not expose or reveal.

Familiar yet bizarre and strange, astonishing yet uncompromising, simple yet enchanting, his photographs function as a “photographic deja vu” as he puts it. Therefore that peculiar and unfamiliar feeling felt from his images is the psychological effect of photographically rearranging the subject or its order that he has captured. Extreme close ups and radical contrasts come in contact with the minimalistic simpleness and geometric abstractness to convey an unexpected way of recognizing the subject. His photographs appear attractive to us because of such “visualization of unconsciousness.”

Goeun Museum of Photography’s Ralph Gibson exhibition will be composed of more than 80 pieces of his best monochrome works in vintage prints, beginning from his early works of the 1960s up to those from the new millennium. The exhibition will be a meaningful chance to appreciate Ralph Gibson’s photographs in one place - the squarely expressed surrealism, intensive black and white contrast, bold composition and close ups, unique angles and extreme frame compositions, and the elegant use of space and light. Moreover, it will be an opportunity to experience the new trend in photography that emerged as the center of photography shifted from Europe to America where it reached its heyday. The exhibition testifies the process of overcoming the modernistic trend that once intended to be true to the independent and distinctiveness features of photographic media and proceed on to the postmodernism that exposes the moment of daily life through parts and pieces.