Looking at a photograph of an iconic building usually pales in comparison to admiring it in the flesh; it is a mammoth task for a photographer to reveal architecture's multi-faceted nuances in a single shot. A notable master of this was René Burri – think his striking image of the San Cristobal Stables by Mexican modernist Luis Barragan – and another is English photographer Richard Pare, whose latest exhibition at PM Gallery showcases his accomplished pictures of the work of Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov.
Titled Living Laboratory, the display shines a light on the modernist aficionado's adeptness in bringing buildings to life through his lens, something particulary apparent in these sun-filled documentations of the two great pioneers' constructions.
"Pare skillfully enhances, but never overshadows, the buildings' distinct personalities"
Pare skillfully draws our attention to both the monumentality of Le Corbusier's sweeping curves and stark lines, and the molecular minutiae peppering his facades and interiors, enhancing but never overshadowing the buildings' distinct personalities. Highlights from the exhibtion include his depictions of the Villa Savoye outside Paris, Chapelle Notre-Dame du Haut in Eastern France, L’Unite’ d’Habitation in Marseille and the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India. Meanwhile Pare's images of the radical Melnikov's self-designed house – a masterpiece in its innovative use of very limited space – are captured in a tangibly respectful and intimate manner.
Taken over a number of decades, using a wide range of technical approaches – a combination of conventional fim and a view camera, and the latest digital advances – Pare's images are (in the words of Carol Swords, the gallery's programmer) "completely enveloping, leading to suspended disbelief, as one is transported momentarily to their settings."
Living Laboratory: Richard Pare on Le Corbusier and Konstantin Melnikov runs until May 11 at PM Gallery & House.
Text by Daisy Woodward