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Anthony Hernandez: The Streets, Seen

Vancouver Art Gallery May 30 to Sep 7 2009
Anthony Hernandez  <I>Beverly Hills #7</I>  1984 Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery Santa Monica Anthony Hernandez Beverly Hills #7 1984 Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery Santa Monica

Anthony Hernandez <I>Beverly Hills #7</I> 1984 Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery Santa Monica

Like much street photography, Anthony Hernandez’s prints are deceptively simple. Hernandez’s images of transitional spaces in Los Angeles during the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, reveal society’s unvarnished face in moments of utter normality. In his Public Transit Areas series, currently on view in an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery co-curated by Jeff Wall, the uneventful task of waiting at a bus stop is enlivened and captured unaffectedly by a socially conscious eye. These contemplative moments of human stillness were obtained with a large-format camera and tripod—unusual for street photography at the time. Nonetheless, the technique afforded Hernandez the use of a widened frame that keeps both its human subjects and their surrounding environment in full perspective. It’s the relationship between the two that Hernandez is interested in, as well as the transient spaces where not much happens—until he shows it to us as a picture. The kind of life Hernandez is after is often mute and dormant; still, his photographs deliver powerful truths about urban existence at its most unglamorous. (750 Hornby St, Vancouver BC)

This article was first published online on July 9, 2009.

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