Within a photography culture that seems to have the dial set to either ‘shock’ or ‘titillate,’ the peaceful, sun-saturated work of Joss McKinley is a welcome reprieve. Rather than focusing on the frenetic chaos of the modern world, his images are radiant in tone, quiet in subject and capture moments of stillness and reflection that feel at once intensely personal and familiar.
McKinley’s latest exhibition, Gathering Wool, draws together eight years of work, featuring abstract images and landscapes interwoven with intimate portraits of friends and family. Big events are not portrayed here; rather he works to capture the least melodramatic of moments. In many cases, his subjects are seemingly unaware of his presence; McKinley shoots from the sidelines, out of view, yet there is no question of voyeurism. His subjects are poised in unselfconscious thought, consideration or sleep. A couple nap, entwined, on the beach; a girl holds her breath before slipping into a chilly lake; a figure is spied from overhead, spread-eagled on his front, dozing in the early morning sunshine. Indeed sun is the common thread in these works – bleaching out a sand bound branch, morphing a conservatory into a rippling, golden seascape, and transforming an unadorned wall into a sunset tricolore.
In McKinley’s use of rich, natural light, in the unaffected poise of his subjects, in the interplay between simplistic constructions and multi-layered works, he has fashioned an exhibition that muses on nature, relationships and time. Strikingly muted, without bombast or fuss, Wool Gathering is perfectly timed for this poignant period as summer fades, along with the golden light, and the soft shades of autumn beckon once more.
Gathering Wool opens on August 30 at Foam Gallery, Amsterdam.
Text by Tish Wrigley