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Art Review: Fiat Lucks @ Fiumano Projects


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"Let there be light", translated as Fiat Lux in Latin, is a theme that implicitly connects the visually-diverse range of artworks by Sam Burford in 'Fiat Lucks' at Fiumano Projects.

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'The Wizard of Oz - a portrait of a film', Sam Burford, Fiumano Projects, 2017

In addition to its reference to light, the exhibition's title is also a play on 'lucky imaging', the photographic practice of visualising galaxies. The artistic portrayals of cinematic lighting and imaging in 'Fiat Lucks' raise intriguing question about how we read and understand films.

Burford's distorted, boldly coloured works are fascinating; when walking from a grey London street into the warmly-lit gallery, the exhibition encouraged my eyes to adjust to the change of light as my mind processed the surprising range of art on display.

With subtlety and sophistication, the exhibition questions the temporal natures of moving films and still images.

The artworks in 'Fiat Lucks' are directly influenced by particular films. In the exhibition, works implicitly represent movies by becoming the conceptual 'portraits' which show condensed versions of the films as a single, abstract images. However, unlike the digital and fluid nature of films, these images are static, changing our temporal experiences of them.

Despite the title's references to light, the exhibition seems ultimately focused on exploring time, with lighting used as a tool to convey this theme.

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'Citizen Kane', Sam Burford, Fiumano Projects

Most of the pieces are 2D images that are printed on flat surfaces, and the meanings of these works are given depth by 'Citizen Kane', a sculptural work; despite differences in media, all of the artworks exist as physical, inanimate objects.

Perhaps the most striking image in the exhibition is the abstract recreation of A Clockwork Orange. The artwork splits the entire film into segments, showing the lighting in each frame. The overall effect is an abstract image comprised of striking shapes of colour.

Despite its abstract nature, it can be easy to read particular shapes and objects into the work. From a distance, before I knew the intentions or even name of this image, I had thought it depicted an underground train as my eyes hurried to make sense of the geometric and seemingly pixelated artwork.

As an object that can hypothetically be held, touched and seen from a 360° perspective (when not seen on a gallery wall), the 'Citizen Kane' artwork could be understood as incomparable to the intangible existence of the story as a moving film, adding literal and metaphorical depth to the 2D images that use similar visual techniques.

However, as the rules of the gallery conventionally forbid viewers from touching the artwork, it escapes our grasp, losing its unique quality as a film transformed into a physical object. Instead, it is out of reach, presented for us to see, but it remains still and unchanging; in the gallery setting, this work fails to build upon the ideas conveyed through the 2D images made with similar intentions.


'Ingrid - The Divided Self, 2017', Sam Burford, Fiumano Projects, 2017

Sitting alongside and opposite the film 'portraits' are beautiful, but somewhat discomforting images of Ingrid Bergman. In these images, a single photograph is repeatedly recreated with various distortions and visual effects and displayed across the exhibition.

The original photograph shows Ingrid expressionless and still, captured in a moment from a moving film. These artworks, that stretch and artistically manipulate the photograph, appear to add expression to the face by pulling at the mouth and eyes and injecting emotion into a relaxed face.

When visiting 'Fiat Lucks', analysis of the temporal nature of art unavoidably leads viewers to theorise on the way in which they see and understand Burford's work in the present moment.

The modest size of the exhibition allows viewers to fully focus on the interesting colours and brilliant concepts of the artworks. The exhibition is small but quietly powerful, conveying impressive ideas with minimal works.


'Fiat Lucks' is open at Fiumano Projects until October 27.

Fiumano Projects relaunches as Fiumano Clase on November 7.

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