|Preece, Mesa, 2017|
Nolan Preece is giving us more of what we want for the fall season to set us thinking about the natural environment - more chemigrams. His second show at the Wickiser Gallery in New York, ten beautiful 16x20" prints on Epson Velvet, closed a few weeks ago, just as a new one was opening a thousand miles away at the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, Florida (October 9 - November 24). It helps to have frequent flyer miles to keep up with him. We described in previous posts how his work in recent years has shifted from fearless displays of pure darkroom savvy and abandon (www.nolanpreece.com) to a thoughtful treatment of the high desert of Nevada where he lives and which he cares most passionately about, along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada range. No one I know of has been working in chemigrams longer, or more assiduously and uninterruptedly, than Nolan, and it shows in the refinement of his methods. Against what we thought were the odds, he has brought chemigrams to bear on ecologic concerns: very few other chemigramists have dared undertake such an effort and none of those few have come near to achieving Nolan's success, or his drama. He has made this ground his own.
|Preece, Highlands, chemigram, 2017|
The unfamiliar viewer should not confuse these images with guidebook pictures. They are the opposite, they are not landscapes but dreams of landscapes, nightmares of landscapes, hallucinations, double-takes, and riffs. They are emotional above all. Nolan, who sees the future, is working under the duress of his knowledge. If you've never seen an emotional chemigram you should look at Highlands, or Mesa - although to be fair we must make exception for Nikolova's powerful work in this regard as well.
|Preece, Arroyo, chemigram, 2017|
|Preece, Cascade, chemigram, 2016|
In vain do we seek human presence here, in these canyons and arroyos, so bleak yet so beautifully detailed, but then we realize the enormity of the geologic forces shaping what Nolan has given us. Men would be nothing, they have no place in it. Understanding that may lead us to a kind of reverence, if we let it.
|Preece, Sierra #2, chemigram, 2016|
If you press me for my favorite, I will go with the one below. Rich in almost boundless mystery, it still has time to leave a wisp of dark mauve in the upper slopes, if slopes they are, as a sign of hope or prophesy, pointing to eons beyond all knowing.