Tim Richmond: ‘Love Bites’ / Reviewed by Marco Bohr / 08.10.18
Tim Richmond’s exhibition ‘Love Bites’, currently on display at the Francesca Maffeo Gallery, is a haunting display of a seemingly fragmented, idiosyncratic and withdrawn coastal community operating on the fringes of society. Photographed as a personal study of the Bristol Channel Coast, Richmond focuses on particular ‘types’ of people which include performers, boxers, wrestlers, transsexuals as well as a number of men and women who appear lost, detached and alienated from their surroundings. These carefully framed portraits are interlaced with stark images of a semi-urban landscape that appears stuck in time. There are shabby hotel rooms, empty bingo halls and foggy streets lit by a fish and chip shop. The overall impression that one might get is that this place has been in decline for many years and there is no way of stopping that trajectory.
In this body of work Richmond very consciously plays with contrasts. In the first instance that refers to the way that he uses colour, provoking comparisons to William Eggleston – one of the great masters of colour photography. Though the contrast alluded to in Richmond’s work is particularly evident in his choice of subject matter such as by photographing the body of the female performer, on one hand, and the boxer’s male body on the other hand. A freezer filled with the chopped-off heads of rabbits lying next to cartons of ice cream also provides a very vivid juxtaposition between the sweetness of life versus the cruelty of death. As the title of the show indicates, the difference between harmony and violence can be quite marginal.
One of the most striking aspects of this show however is when Richmond inverts, subverts or contradicts these very juxtapositions within the same image. This is the case in the image of a transsexual woman shooting a rifle on a beach while wearing a short dress and plateau shoes. The otherworldliness of the image is neatly undermined by the fact that the dress and the landscape are almost perfectly matched in colour. It becomes quite apparent throughout this body of work that Richmond ‘plays’ with colour, constructing elaborate settings that are full of tension and that push and pull against each other much like the tide rises and falls in the Bristol Channel.
One aspect that rarely, if ever, gets acknowledged in this type of photographic practice is the immense social and emotional skills that are required from the photographer to create such intimate portraits. The photograph is taken within a split second but preceding that there might be hours, days perhaps weeks of engaging with people who slowly, through the passing of time or through sheer trust, let down their guard. This is one of the ironies of being called a ‘photographer’ when the vast majority of time producing such intricate and beautiful body of work is spent negotiating such a complex network of emotions.
– reviewed for Photomonitor by Marco Bohr
Tim Richmond will be in conversation about his work at Francesca Maffeo Gallery on October 20th 2018; more details on the gallery website
Below, selected images from ‘Love Bites’ © Tim Richmond, courtesy Francesca Maffeo Gallery
Francesca Maffeo Gallery
284 Leigh Road, Leigh on Sea - Essex - SS9 1BW