According to their press release, the AIPAD Photography Show is one of the world’s most “highly anticipated annual photography events.” Well, let me tell you – that statement couldn’t be any more accurate. I’ve been hearing about AIPAD since my days at Aperture Foundation and by word of mouth from photo friends. So, walking into the Park Avenue Armory where the show was being held, I was excited to see what all the great fuss was about.
Circling around the Armory filled with many different galleries from around the world, it was great to see familiar works by artists like Matthew Pillsbury, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and Graciela Iturbide (an En Foco’s alumna). After a while though, I must admit I grew a little tired of seeing so many black-and-white photographs.
So when I saw a ray of color coming from Steven Kasher Gallery, I was ecstatic!
I am a huge fan of graffiti art and urban culture, so seeing Henry Chalfant’s work was absolutely mesmerizing.
Henry Chalfant started out as a sculptor in New York in the 1970s but turned to photography and film to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. According to the Director of Steven Kasher Gallery, Maya Piergies, and their website – he is one of the foremost authorities on New York subway art, and “other aspects of urban youth culture.”
At first I thought it was one of Bruce Davidson’s photographs from his Subway series in the late 1970s. However, they weren’t as gritty and dark. Chalfant’s series of heavily tagged subway cars are vibrant in color but simple in technique. While his technique is very straightforward, each photograph has its own identity and character. What I love most are the captions accompanying the photographs. Each one is named after their street tag names: Kel Min, Sharp Delta, Tkid Booze, 2Near 2Mad 2Wide, or 2Man TNT to name a few.
Chalfant’s photographs are also featured in City Museum of New York’s exhibition called, “City as Canvas: Graffiti Art From the Martin Wong Collection.” Steven Kasher Gallery also held a self-titled exhibition of Henry Chalfant earlier this year.
As I was stepping into the now modernized, clean #6 train on my way back to the Bronx, I smiled to myself wishing that I were stepping into one of Chalfant’s photographed subway cars instead.
AIPAD runs from April 10-13, 2014. For more information on the AIPAD show, panel discussions and other great exhibiting galleries, click here.
For more information on Henry Chalfant, click here.