❮ SF Bay
Robert Koch Gallery
49 Geary Street San Francisco
+1 415 421 0122
Tuesday - Saturday: 1030 am - 5:30 pm
Matt Black : The Central Valley and Mexico
Sep 07 - Oct 21 2023 - 28 days left
The Robert Koch Gallery proudly presents Matt Black: The Central Valley and Mexico, the gallery's second exhibition featuring the powerful and stark works of American photographer Matt Black. Based in California's Central Valley, Black produces highly narrative imagery deeply grounded in present-day societal and environmental disquietude. The Central Valley and Mexico delves into two earlier bodies of work, seemingly distant in geography but profoundly united in thematic resonance. Black's lens presents a captivating and profound exploration of some of the most marginalized communities in the Americas.
 In 1995, Black began capturing the struggle, disempowerment, and hopeful resilience of communities throughout the Central Valley of California. The work from The Central Valley portrays the many hardships faced by residents working and living in one of the world's most significant and powerful agricultural hubs. Despite generating billions of dollars in economic output, these communities bear the weight of poverty, unemployment, and inadequate access to healthcare and education. It was while photographing in the Central Valley, that Black noticed a shift in the agricultural workforce, historically a point of transition for various migrant groups. Black identified a group that intrigued him: indigenous immigrants from Mexico, speaking Trique, Mixtec, or Nahuatl. The reasons for leaving their homelands intrigued Black and led him to the mountains of Oaxaca, where he witnessed the erosion of an ancient way of life. These mountains, the birthplace of corn cultivation with a history spanning millennia, had succumbed to modern farming techniques, resulting in landslides, crop failures, and a mass exodus to the US in search of opportunities. Those left behind were mostly the elderly and children, struggling to sustain shrinking villages that became targets for drug cartels. Amid this intersection of environmental crisis and economic brutality, Black composed compelling photo essays, such as "The People of Clouds" and "The Monster in the Mountains," which would eventually comprise the series Mixteca.
 Matt Black creates work that, while rooted in the documentary tradition, is also noted for its deeply personal approach, emotional engagement, and visual intensity. Excerpts from American Geography have been widely published and exhibited in the United States and abroad. A monograph of American Geography was published in 2021 by Thames and Hudson, accompanying an institutional exhibition that traveled to the Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2020) and the Kunstfoyer, Munich (2021).
 In addition to The New Yorker, Black's work has appeared in TIME Magazine, The California Sunday Magazine, as well as international publications such as Le Monde (France) and Internazionale (Italy). Also a filmmaker, Black's short films have been published by The New Yorker, MSNBC, and Orion Magazine, among others. A member of the prestigious Magnum agency, Matt Black has been honored three times by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Prize, named a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective, and was the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award in 2015 for Humanistic Photography.
Tom Baril: Botanica
Sep 07 - Oct 21 2023 - 28 days left
The Robert Koch Gallery is honored to present Tom Baril: Botanica. With a distinguished background as Robert Mapplethorpe's master printer spanning over fifteen years, Baril's artistic repertoire encompasses a diverse array of subjects. These include the intricate beauty of urban architecture, mesmerizing seascapes, and intricately captured botanical and nature scenes. Tom Baril's Botanica photographs reveal his deep connection to the natural world, celebrating the ephemeral qualities of life and nature, capturing fleeting moments of beauty and transience. Baril’s images are not merely representations of objects but rather meditations on the passage of time and the fragility of existence. Through his lens, ordinary plants and flowers become extraordinary visual stories. Baril's meticulous attention to detail, interplay of light and shadow, and ability to evoke intimacy in his images set his work apart. Each photograph invites viewers to contemplate the profound complexity of nature. Botanica not only showcases the diverse beauty of plants but also reflects Baril's skill in presenting nature's elegance in a captivating and evocative manner. Achieving this fusion involves a delicate amalgamation of intimate close-ups, purposeful composition, and expert lighting. Baril's mastery as a printer shines as he adeptly employs his self-developed techniques of solarization and a distinctive toning process in his prints. In his exploration of still life, Tom Baril invites us to slow down, to take a moment to truly see and appreciate the world around us. His photographs remind us that beauty can be found in the smallest of details, and that art has the power to transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. His photographs invite us to reflect on the beauty that surrounds us and to find solace in the contemplation of the everyday. Baril has enjoyed numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, and his work is in collections of the Getty Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum; and the Elton John Collection, among others. Two monographs have been published on his work: Botanica (Arena Editions, 1999) and the highly acclaimed 1997 self-titled monograph published by 4AD.