Review by Gerhard Clausing •
Having recently curated the ABSTRACT VISIONS Exhibition, I was very pleased to come across this work by Richard S. Chow. He is a prolific exhibitor in the Los Angeles area and internationally, has received a number of important awards for his work, and is also very active in furthering the exposure of other photographers through Open Show LA events, along with his colleague Jonas Yip, whose work I will be reviewing shortly.
This photobook by Richard S. Chow is entitled Urbanscape, and consists of some 30 photographic images, with two additional arrangements of three and six as collages. The work displays an astute vision, an impressive ability both to isolate shapes and lines and to combine forms into distinct and pleasing and/or riveting patterns and juxtapositions, both in monochrome and color. This work gives us the impression that we are contemplating architectural archetypes that have their own rules and aesthetic systems. As Chow himself states in his notes in the book, one of his main goals is to give the viewer a participatory projection experience as a member of the society whose architects and builders have created the distant beauty of these forms for their structures.
The first part of the photobook is comprised of 18 images in monochrome, while the latter part contains 12 color plates, well printed and of a good size; they also have interesting titles, such as “Between the Lines” and “Hip to be Square.” I was especially pleased to note that all double pages lie perfectly flat on the table with this kind of binding. All the images display a dynamic optimism, a sense of beauty that is characterized by distance yet beckons the viewer to get involved in the image in leisurely contemplation to get a bit closer. These are not the kinds of images that leave you cold, in spite of what may at first appear, and as might be one’s initial reaction upon first glance. The level of abstraction varies across this work; sometimes there are some natural elements or quirky human objects in the periphery (the sky with or without clouds, rain gutters and/or their shadows, and other such bits not so high-tech) that remind us of the human needs behind the structures. Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray might be pleased by Chow’s contemporary treatment of the abstractions that urban spaces present to us today. Most intriguing!
The PhotoBook Journal previously reviewed Richard S. Chow’s Distant Memories.
Photographer: Richard S. Chow (born in Hong Kong; lives in Los Angeles, California)
Self-published, edition of 50; © 2017
Text: Notes by the photographer, in English
Soft covers, spiral-bound (Wire-O), 10.75 x 8.25 inches; 66 pages, unpaginated; black and white and color sections with 18 and 12 images respectively; printed by MagCloud (a division of Blurb)