Steve Macleod is a Scottish photographer who lives and works in Essex, the English county that has provided him with subject matter for various series of work. However, Macleod seems to have found his richest seam of form in the Emirati portion of the Empty Quarter, the huge desert that drifts into Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and the uae. Hala is Macleod’s solo show of works shot among the rocks, sand, scrub and searing heat, and is possessed of a timeless Holy Land look. Hala means “aura” in Arabic and the work shimmers with heat: the focus pulls back and forth between foregound details of rock formations or oases and heat-hazy backdrops. “For hours I watched the light,” says Macleod. “And by searching into a void of nothingness I experienced something that went beyond photography.” Viewers will too. These works, at their largest, are vertiginous, vast and engulfing.
The London gallery representing Macleod, the newly formed Black Box Projects, will present Hala as a solo show at the Photo London fair in May. Black Box first opened in a temporary space in Soho in March and will eventually land more permanently at Cromwell Place, a gallery, storage space and studio slated to open in South Kensington in a couple of years.
“Photo London is perfect timing for us to show what we’re about,” says co-founder Kathlene Fox-Davies. “We’re trying to reinvent what a gallery at this level can be.” Fox-Davies and her co-directors Anna Kirrage and Jim Edwards come from a mix of the gallery, private art advisory and consultancy worlds. “People ask, ‘Are you a gallery?’” says Kirrage. “And we say, ‘Sure, just not always in the same space.’”
Besides Macleod, Black Box represents US artist Liz Nielsen who, working from her studio in Brooklyn, manipulates negatives with colour, cuts and unlikely sources of light in her sometimes not-so darkroom. Nielsen’s geometric, colourful work seems a precise balance to Macleod’s landscapes.
“We’re a gallery that right now can mount very focused shows,” says Fox-Davies. And Black Box Projects is nothing if not focused. You will see it grow. But for now, in May, get lost in the desert with Steve Macleod’s epic pictures.