It has been fifteen years since the photographer Martin Parr first exhibited his work at Rocket, the gallery that represents the artist. Time Off is the ninth solo exhibition he has worked on with the gallery and consists of six archival pigment photographs mounted on perspex.  A long way from the saturated northern seasides of New Brighton, these photographs (taken between 2002 and 2012) range across Europe and Asia. They capture people, ourselves, going about our daily lives – this time at leisure. Although the activities are familiar - sunburnt tourists in pastel shorts climbing an ancient site in Mexico, Mac and hat clad horse race spectators in Paris, balloons released in celebration over telegraph poles in Walsall. The photographs still reflect back the foreign, the oddity of humans and their behaviour. There is a critical absurdity in the St Moritz woman whose furs morph her into the pet dog nestled in her arms. The photographs also have a hyper-real sense to them, although the people and scenes are obviously not staged . The image of Vietnamese fishers on the beach is both a scene of complete normality and uncannily  fake, as if it could be constructed like one of those artificial indoor beaches found in Japan.

Parr has always been prolific in his output - in 2009 he mounted a major retropective that toured to Munich, Paris and the Baltic in Gateshead. Exhibiting both Parrs photographic  output over the last 40 years alongside Parrs various collections – Royal memorabilia, postcards, plates commemorating the 1984-5 miners’ strike. More recently he has been working on his first public art commission for St Mary Redcliffe school in central Bristol. Although not open to the public, the large-scale wall mounted shots reflect the students back at themselves, studying, gossiping and playing. These projects seem more experimental in in terms of the way Parr exhibits his work and his relationship between the objecta dn the image. Time Off is more of a return to form and testimony to strength of Parrs photography. Colours are subtle and composed to make the viewer notice both the the contrast and the similarity between ourselves and the environment we inhabit, the real and the fake, the mundane and the wonderfully sublime.

Time Off runs until February 9, 2013. Signed and numbered editions of the work are available in two different sizes – 40 x 60 inches in an edition of 5 (£7000 + VAT) and 20 x 30 inches in an edition of 10 (£3600 + VAT).

Posted
AuthorSacha Waldron