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London – Peter Fraser: A City in the Mind

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Brancolini Grimaldi, London, is currently showcasing Peter Fraser’s new work, entitled A City in the Mind – a series of still life photographs creating a unique portrait of London. The award-winning photographer has taken the novel Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, as an inspiration. In Invisible Cities the explorer Marco Polo tells the Emperor Kublai Kahn tales of the fantastical and magical cities he has visited on his travels. With the aim to create an imagined ‘city in the mind’, Fraser spent the past five years photographing London, his current home. The outcome is a series of intimate and enigmatic images in which Fraser reveals his poetic vision of London, which appears to be a very different city from the one we know. Peter Fraser was born in 1953 in Cardiff. Before studying photography at the Manchester Polytechnic University between 1972 and 1976, Fraser went to school in Wales until 1971 and went on to study Civil Engineering for three months at the Hatfield Polytechnic University. He became one of the early adept of colour photography in the UK, along with photographers such as Martin Parr and Paul Graham, and began exhibiting his colour photographs as early as 1982. In 1984, Fraser travelled to the USA, where he spent two months with William Eggleston, after having met the legendary photographer at his first UK exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1983. The time spent with Eggleston reassured Fraser that his decision to work with colour photography was the right one; he refered to notions of ‘Poetic Truth’ rather than notions of ‘Documentary Truth’, which was the prevailing tradition at that time in England. The photographs Fraser started to produce, unlike most British photographers at the time, were preoccupied with philosophical and metaphysical questions. This tendency is clearly reflected in Fraser’s most recent body of work, A City in the Mind. The viewer is asked to imagine a city through the displayed images several of which are featuring antiquated miniatures or models. The objects depicted in Fraser’s photographs, such as a shiny chandelier hanging from a glamorous ceiling, a stuffed bird sitting on a branch, chestnuts on a table, or an antique model of penicillin, all somehow seem related to themes such as ‘history’ and ‘learning’. As in his previous work, the photographer’s eye seems to be drawn to unusual objects and interiors which fascinated him. The city created by Fraser seems very mysterious and elusive, and the photographs can be seen as small hints of this different, unknown London, which the viewer is asked to imagine. Peter Fraser’s work has been published in many books, including Two Blue Buckets (1988), Deep Blue (1997) and Lost for Worlds (2010). London’s Photographers’ Gallery staged a twenty-year survey of his work in 2002, and in 2004 Fraser was shortlisted for the Citibank Photography Prize. A City in the Mind is accompanied by a monograph, co-published by Steidl and Brancolini Grimaldi, with a foreword by Brian Dillon. Peter Fraser’s work will be displayed in a major exhibition at Tate St Ives in January 2013, and another monograph will be published by Tate, covering the whole of Fraser’s career to date, with an essay by David Chandler.

By Anna-Maria Pfab

A City in the Mind
Until the 14 July 2012
Braconlini Grimaldi
First Floor
43-44 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4JJ

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