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Current Exhibitions

Proud Central Exhibition

Sessions in Sound: Photographs by Norman Seeff

23rd November 2018 - 13th January 2019

Proud Central
32 John Adam Street

Proud Galleries is pleased to announce Sessions in Sound: Photographs by Norman Seeff, an intimate collection of Seeff’s acclaimed photographic sessions featuring influential 20th Century musical icons. From Johnny Cash and Patti Smith to Joni Mitchell and the Rolling Stones, Norman Seeff’s perceptive lens captures thought-provoking images of iconic artists session after session. The exhibition explores the sensitive collaboration between photographer and musician; whether photographed mid-smile or deep in contemplation, Seeff’s subjects are effortlessly captured in moments of spontaneity. Famed for emotionally engaging with his subjects, Seeff’s photographs in Sessions in Sound are intimate, lively and authentic.

Norman Seeff was born in South Africa, 1939. After working as an A&E doctor in Soweto, he moved to New York aged 29, eager to explore his creative passions. His break into the industry occurred when introduced to the renowned album cover designer, Bob Cato, who gave him his first major assignment – to photograph Robbie Robinson and The Band for the liner notes of their album ‘Stage Fright’. After getting lost on his way to Woodstock and arriving hours late, Seeff was disappointed with his own work. Embarrassed by the results, he simply pushed the only image he liked in an envelope under the door of Cato’s brownstone. When Seeff finally gathered the courage to contact him some weeks later, Cato exclaimed “where have you been? I don’t have your number! They love the photograph and they want to use it for the album cover.” This project and its immediate recognition catapulted Seeff into prominence.

In 1973, Seeff opened his own studio on Sunset Boulevard, constantly evolving his sessions through an exploration of the creative process. His distinctive method of focusing on an authentic connection allowed Seeff to break down barriers between himself and his subject. Throughout his career, Seeff developed creative alliances with an incredible range of musicians, revealing the intimacy and vulnerability of the artist in the act of creation.

In 1985, Seeff photographed musician Ray Charles and later recalled how “Ray was testy at the start of the session. Ultimately, he loved the process and ended up calling me ‘brother’. It was a seminal session.” The exhibition also features a selection of unpublished photographs, including a portrait of Patti Smith from Seeff’s 1969 acclaimed photoshoot with Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe. This session has arguably become one of Seeff’s most well known, with the photographer describing that “after Robert’s death, Patti told me these shots come closest to her remembrance of the profundity of the love between them.”

Sessions in Sound: Photographs by Norman Seeff aims to give an insight into the photographer’s process as he searches for spontaneous authenticity in his work. Remaining popular to a modern-day audience, Seeff’s images have a timeless quality, perhaps reflective of an uncanny ability to connect emotionally with each of his subjects. His distinctive stylised approach to session photography has certified his enduring legacy in both the music and photography industries. The work on display in Sessions in Sound demonstrates Seeff’s creative ethos; to constantly seek “a place with my subjects that defines pure presence, where we can stand and just look at each other without any filters.”


Future Exhibitions

Proud Central Exhibition

Mark Thompson: The World Distilled

18th January- 3rd February 2019

Proud Galleries is pleased to present Mark Thompson: The World Distilled, an exhibition of contemporary fine art paintings by British artist Mark Thompson.

Since his first solo exhibition at Proud Galleries twenty years ago, Mark Thompson has become an established and internationally renowned artist in his field. His work has been displayed in galleries worldwide and is featured in multiple international private collections; from The Microsoft Corporation Collection in North America to The Government Art Collection in the UK. In January 2019, he will return to Proud once again to exhibit his most recent collection of formidable landscape paintings.

Based in Sweden, Thompson’s eerie and dramatic works are reminiscent of the barren landscapes and Nordic Noir aesthetic that surround him. Whether he is depicting an empty building with closed doors and cavernous hallways or a panoramic snowscape of never-ending streets, Thompson’s work is unified by an intense aura of nostalgia, mystery and the uncanny. His fascination with painting as a medium has never wavered throughout his career; in his words, “there is something about the slowing down of time that painting requires - the fixing of an image over time - that held my attention and still does.”

Created painstakingly with layer upon layer of oil paint and glaze on wood, the expressive style of Thompson’s practice is comparable to book illustration and film concept art, with its three-dimensionality and use of sharp architectural lines and angles. Thompson hints at an outline of a place, then lets our imagination fill in the story behind his monochromatic colours, relying on his own memories and their hazy imperfection. Rather than photography, which captures a close representation of the real, Thompson’s process results in a landscape with a vast sense of emotional depth and a larger-than-life interpretation of strangely familiar scenes. This technique, perfected throughout his career, is described by Thompson:

"The paintings in particular are works of memory – the slow development or exposure of a photograph being both a useful metaphor and an actuality in my practice. The filter of memory appears to retain only what is personally important, and the inevitable mix of my own history and experience fills in the gaps. Only that which remains is important – the extraneous and fleeting are not registered. The final image is therefore a remnant, the world distilled. This remembered world inevitably fades and decays, and I catch all I can before there is nothing left. This is my starting point."

Mark Thompson: The World Distilled is an exhibition exploring place and memory, and its emotive, quiet landscapes add a dream-like quality to empty and abandoned scenes. The artworks are large and atmospheric and when viewed as a collection, have a remarkable capacity to invoke feelings of nostalgia for strange, unfamiliar spaces. Thompson’s art questions whether it is possible to bring a fading memory to life by recalling a distant place and reflecting on these fragmented moments.