Robert Polidori, at Flowers Gallery, London

Jataganj Road 1, Varanais, India, 2007, copyright Robert Polidori

I first discovered Robert Polidori when my wife bought a book of hid photographs of Havana, shortly after we had visited there. It is a tremendous book full of remarkable images of Havana interiors which are invested through the photographs with a richness, grandeur and almost regal quality. This was clearly an outstanding photographer with a great eye and an attention to detail, committed to large format film photography.

I had not however seen any of these images at full size until today when I visited the small exhibition of his work at Flowers in Kingsland Road. It is really a teaser exhibition of 10 large works drawn from his Chernobyl, Havana, Versailles and New Orleans series, together with two new photographs from what I assuming is an emerging body of work from India.

The two Indian photographs, one of them at the top of this post, are stunning. Like Havana, the humble is made majestic by the scale and richness of the image. I was undecided whether to use the image above because it cannot really reflect the impact of a picture presented 1.5 x 1.8 metres.

Cabinet de Beautees, Chateau de Versailles, 1985, copyright Robert Polidori

 

But I think the highlight of the exhibition are the two photographs from Versailles, one dating back to 1985 the other from 2008. So for over 20 years, photographing the undiscovered and unvisited Versailles has been a major commitment, one might say an obsession, documented in huge multi-part book. Both photographs establish the glory of Versailles, even while reflecting its gradual decay.

Music Theory Classroom in School 5, Pripyat, 2001, copyright Robert Polidori

As  I said at the beginning, this exhibition is really only a teaser. The individual pictures are interesting, though I could have done with less of Chernobyl (above) and New Orleans, and more of Versailles and India. But really each of these subjects has been developed by Polidori to the extent that each can fully merit a full exhibition. Let’s hope they are forthcoming.

By the way, the images are outstanding, but so are the prices at $18,000-$36,000 each (editions of ten). At this price the work is clearly out of the reach of most individual collectors of photography and his work must be aimed at institutions. It’s a shame because I’d love one on my wall!

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