Nadav Kander: The Edge of Things | Portrait(s)

7 June – 29 September 2024

Grand Etablissement Thermal
Avenue du Général Dwight Eisenhower
Vichy, France

Over the last three decades or so, Nadav Kander has become one of the most celebrated image makers of his generation. From the walls of major museums and galleries to the pages of the world’s leading magazines, his themes and subject matter have ranged far and wide. In this survey exhibition we can see the full spectrum. There are portraits of presidents, actors and artists alongside landscapes, seascapes, still lifes, interiors, and video installations.

I have walked one road. I have not deviated left or right. I keep trying to touch or conjure what matters to me, using varying subject matter to do so. – Nadav Kander

Few photographers are masterful in both black and white and colour, and fewer still in every kind of light. Here you will find the stark sun of the American desert, the misty forests and thick nights of northern Europe, and much in between. And yet, when Kander’s varied works are gathered together, we can begin to make out his underlying concerns.

Despite the camera’s unrivalled ability to describe appearances and to stop time, Kander presents something else too, something that becomes known but cannot be seen, in the ceaseless passage of earthly time and human history. That which escapes the camera’s gaze is a source of disquiet. His work is pensive, laden with possibility. People and places are permitted to keep their secrets.

There are images here that recall the histories of painting, sculpture, cinema and literature. There are images that seem to offer what only still photographs can. At one moment we might be encouraged to enter the illusionistic depths of a picture and imagine we were there, before the scene, with the artist himself. Another photograph will bring our eye to contemplate its flat, elusive surface, almost like a work of abstraction. Some images seem to hold almost cosmic measures of time, while others feel bound to our troubled twenty-first century. In this there is something of Baudelaire about Kander’s vision. A delicate mix of the eternal and the ephemeral. The moods shift from the sublime to the melancholy and back again, through tragedy and ecstasy. What emerges is Kander’s willingness to meet the world, experience it as it passes, and mark the experience with an image.

Text by David Campany