Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present Henry Wessel: Incidents, the first exhibition of 27 carefully arranged and never before published works from the 2012 portfolio, Incidents.
The exhibition will be on view April 25 to June 15, 2013, with an opening reception for the public on Wednesday, April 24, 5:30-7:30p.m..
In 2012, Wessel assembled Incidents, a portfolio of 27 undated photographs, calling it a ‘work without words.’ Decisive and succinct, each Incident is laid down with the aesthetic immediacy of a snapshot, recalling Garry Winogrand’s quote that “There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described.” Cumulatively, moving from picture to picture, trace retinal memory persists, and structural parallels are drawn and dissolve. The images, or occurrences, unfold in time, yet there is equal weight on each note, as in the nonarc narrative of a piece of Beat literature.
As with much of Wessel’s work, the light (California light specifically) is quintessential, the crisp white that blanches everything and radiates the distant glow of Hollywood. All the scenes are lodged in outdoor spaces, framed by concrete, telephone poles, and chain link fences. Yet evident is the friendly witnessing of life being lived with all its marvelous peculiarity. The viewer becomes involved in the unintentional act of seeing, often through the car window (a hallmark of the California experience), at the beach or in the park, in empty parking lots and non-descript apartment complexes. A lover of cinema and the complexity of Noir, Wessel gives just enough information to create intrigue without getting bogged down by content. He stage-lights the banal and elevates it to the level of spectacle, all the while channeling vintage California, cool, sun-baked, timeless.
Wessel (b. 1942, Teaneck, N.J.) received a BA from Pennsylvania State University in 1966 and an MFA from the Visual Studies Workshop at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1972. His photographs can be found in public and private collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Ariz.; the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Art; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
He is the recipient of two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowships (1971, 1979); two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1975, 1977); and a National Endowment for the Arts Survey Grant (1978).
He is a resident faculty member of the Photography Department at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Wessel lives and works in Point Richmond, California.