‘Rome 1969’ Art of Foto Gallery Saint Petersburg, Russia 15 May 2016

Date : May 15, 2016

Truth is black and white, it's the lies that are colourful.
Truth is also simple. It is the moment of "yes" or "no", "did" or "didn't", "was" or "wasn't" when all the "but's" have been shoved aside. 
A human truth, or something we know or learn about ourselves, is very much the same. Budding teenage love, reserved affection of mature couples, the optimism, defiance or energy of youth, all these human conditions or stories are universal and rather well-documented or re-enacted in art. There is no difference between the St.Petersburg of 2016 or Rome in the 70s.
The point of the show is not the rather expected similarity of people across the globe. And yes, John's photographs are beautifully clear, concise, and graphic, but they go beyond a simple illustration of human emotional or physical conditions.
The point is the beauty of the Moment of Human Truth that John R Pepper created - not captured - for us. A given Human Truth may be the same across ages and countries but its expressions and "moments" are always different. It takes an artist to bring it out in such a way that we find it involving, exiting, different to what we have seen before, and, most importantly, authentic and believable. It takes a huge talent and effort to create in a way that makes us want to first plunge into an image, experience its strangeness or beauty, and then think of the story that has led to the climax taking place in front of us.
All of the images are unstaged and feature common people, so one may be tempted to typecast them as post-neorealistic moments in life, but they defy the definition. They represent the creation of a climax out of a moment, not just capturing it. Their authenticity cannot be questioned: we know it is the real truth, and even those people who are aware of the camera seem to be more interested in how the camera is going to work rather than posing for it. John's camera may invade the moment it is capturing but it never disrupts it.
There is one image that seems to be out of place: the license plate with SCV1 on it. SCV stands for Status Civitatis Vaticanae, the official car that transports the Pope. Notice the sunray playing on its edges as if God softly marked this holy vehicle with his grace. This divine light is always present in John's photographs, and even if it can't always be seen in such a direct manner, it is still there, in all the moments he creates, even when it's dark outside. This is the magic of John's early photographs: their internal light.

Kirill Petrin,
Moscow/St Petersburg,
June 2016

*     *     *

INSTALLATION

PHOTO GALLERY

IMAGES OF THE SHOW

 

PRESS FOR ROME 1969 EXHIBITION ART OF FOTO GALLERY SAINT PETESBURG

'VEDOMOSTI' ARTICLE RUSSIAN

'VEDOMOSTI' OF ST PETERSBURG

 

Email