49th Parallel Gallery, NYC

Still Lifes

Still Lifes

Still Lifes, 1977-1981
Hand tinted gelatin silver prints, 30" x 36"

"My artistic work during the past ten years has dealt with the discrepancy between the photograph as a record of transmitted light and the assigned cultural meanings that it conveys. Projects and exhibitions have considered aspects of photography's problematic nature and syntax: the representation of time and space, the effect of text as a connotative device, and the impact of industrial/commercial pictorial references. From a cultural perspective, some of the work has dealt with the exposition of submerged social and historical structures in visual conventions, and the cultural conditioning that dictate the photographer's decisions and the viewer's responses."
  George Legrady

Still Lifes belongs to a group of works that include, among others, Everyday Stories, Image/Text Series, Theoretical Studies, and Object Narratives. These explore, within the framework of the studio, the system of objects and its syntax. Legrady composes his tableaux by combining objects taken from daily life with drawings, words, and constructions made from corrugated cardboard, tin foil, or plywood. The stagings are made up of a few essential motifs located within a context almost empty of language, in which an economy of means condenses the scene into a few basic symbols while expanding the impact of the image tenfold. Thus, televised warfare is signified by a rough cut-out of a tank and the image of a crushed human figure framed by the borders of a television screen. By deploying a range of routine situations and conventional symbols, Legrady casts an ironic gaze on the social consensus that regulates discourse and hardens images into stereotypes.

Throughout the various work cycles that have occupied him since the mid-1980s, Legrady has used photography to expose the strategies by which objects constitute an internal system of relationships that opens onto language. In the same way that objects are continually consumed, thrown out, and distributed in a multitude of contexts, images are caught up in an uninterrupted whirl that places and displaces them endlessly. The cycle of found objects is succeeded by that of borrowed images.

Pierre Dessurault
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography