Press Release -
Poolscape 58 © Karine Laval
Poolscape 58 © Karine Laval
Karine Laval: Reflections celebrates 15 years of work by the contemporary French photographer, Karine Laval. The exhibition, organised to coincide with the publication of a major new book on her work by Steidl, charts the evolution of Laval’s images from sun-drenched, bleached-out European lidos to darker, more abstracted dystopian landscapes.
The exhibition will bring together two connected bodies of work – ‘The Pool’ (2002 - 2005) and ‘Poolscapes’ (2009 - 2012) – focused on the motif of the swimming pool. Presenting public pools in urban and natural environments throughout Europe and private pools in the US, the work shows an evolution in tone and depth, from the real to the imagined, from the photographic to the painterly.‘The Pool’ series invites the viewer into a sun-bleached public pool, evocative of childhood memories and the universal experience of holidays and water. The geometric lines and familiar architectural structures give way to the abstract, often blurred shapes and colours of the ‘Poolscapes’ pictures that oscillate between representation and abstraction. Here the pool becomes a metaphor, a mirror whose surface reflects the surrounding world but is also a gateway into a submerged realm where bathers are distorted and fragmented, revealing the unconscious and darker connotations of the pool.
Untitled 06, from The Pool © Karine Laval
Alongside these earlier works, the exhibition will present Laval’s most recent series, ‘Heterotopia’ which continue Laval’s evolving exploration of distorted realities and altered perceptions, using manipulations of light and colour. The images from ‘Heterotopia’ are densely layered photographs of gardens and other manicured “natural” environments, created by combining analogue techniques and digital technologies. Placing sheets of glass and mirrors in the composition, and employing skewed perspectives and extreme crops, the images are suffused with the luminescence of stained-glass windows. Laval’s images often challenge familiar perceptions of environment, a bridge between the world we live in and a more surreal and dreamlike dimension.
Born in Paris, Karine Laval currently lives and works in New York. Educated at the University of La Sorbonne and the University of ASSAS in Paris, she completed her education with photography and design courses at Cooper Union, SVA and the New School of New York. Her work has also been widely exhibited in solo exhibitions including those at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Lodz Festival, Poland; Rhubarb-Rhubarb, Birmingham; and Les Rencontres d’Arles, France, and in major group exhibitions at the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris; Maison Particuliére in Brussels and Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon amongst others. Her work has been acquired by Citibank Collection (New York), the Henry Buhl Collection (New York), Collection Corbiere (Paris) and the Contemporanea Collection (Rio de Janeiro).
Karine Laval’s work has appeared in numerous international publications including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Elle, The Telegraph, Le Monde, Le Figaro Magazine, Fabric, Dazed & Confused, Next Level, EXIT, Harper’s. She was a recipient of the Peter Reed Foundation Grant in 2005, a finalist of France's Villa Medicis Hors Les Murs Competition and nominated for the Prix Pictet in 2016.
Untitled 10 from Heterotopia © Karine Laval
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