Boris Mikhailov

19 September - 3 November 2007
Wednesday-Friday 12-5, Saturday 12-4

Matthew Bown Gallery is proud to present Intimacy, a themed exhibition of three large photographs by Boris Mikhailov. This is Mikhailov's first show in the UK since surveys at TATE and the Saatchi Collection.

Mikhailov's wife and collaborator over several decades, Vita, is the recurring subject in Intimacy.

In one work she grasps Mikhailov's penis and pulls him along against a backdrop of palm-trees: a snapshot that suggests the complexity of human relations but also, perhaps, intimates the inextinguishable possibility of ecstacy. In another photograph she is seen sitting nude on a stool, brushing her granddaughter's hair: a meditation on time and place that blends the aesthetics of a staged photo and snapshot, genre and verite, socialist-realist saccharine and kitchen-sink objectivity. In the third work, we see her bare legs pressed against a tree (perhaps in the aftermath of, or in preparation for, sex) and on the naked earth (a trysting spot in a park in Marbella) a strewn assortment of discarded condoms, the remains of innumerable "holiday romances".

The works in Intimacy may be seen as a counterweight to Mikhailov's best-known series, Case History, a documentation of the lives of down-and-outs in Kharkov, Ukraine. As an examination of Mikhailov's private life, Intimacy is not at all about social confrontation, but the photographs display the same theatrical sense of exposure as the Ukrainian portraits. Many people have questioned Mikhailov's own role in the forced confessions of the body that make up Case History; but as Intimacy shows, the compulsion to document the "dissolution of beauty" (his words) is central to his work as a whole.

(Please note that the Boris Mikhailov exhibition is planned to run alongside Works towards an effective terrorist culture, a show by the artist immi; however, lawyer's advice has put some works, and thus the viability of this show, in doubt).

Untitled, 2005.