About halfway on the drive west on Rt.212 from Saugerties to Woodstock, there is a small plaza hosting a British Deli, a couture design studio, and a brand new art gallery “The Image Factory”. Photographer Fionn Reilly has taken over a renovated gas station and made not only a home for his work but also revolving exhibits of other fine art photographers. The space is beautiful with soft natural light, big windows and subtle reminders of the vintage gas station it once was. Photographs of old, rusting cars glaring out of the woods juxtaposed with the direct gaze of young women make an immediate confrontational encounter: the cars, a memory of the gallery as garage, and the girls, post-modern pin-ups from an old mechanic’s calendar. Fionn is not a voyeur sneaking around his subjects or peeking behind some imaginary curtain, instead he sharply engages the world in a relentless stare-down. Even though his prints are large, the images are much bigger than their paper and I was surprised to measure one out and find it was a foot smaller than I though it was.
In this age of digital photography, the art of film photography can be under-appreciated but when you look at the surface and patina of these large prints, you can’t help but re-appreciate the superiority of film over digital: The depth of field, the richness of color, the continuous tone. And when photography is art, you forget it is a photograph when it seeks you out, slaps your face, challenges you to a visual duel and demands satisfaction.
Fionn Reilly is also having a show at 11 Cross Street Gallery with Nadia Petrov “6 of 1 and half dozen of the other” opening Sat June 5, from 5-8.
Mr. Reilly’s website: www.fionnreilly.com