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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

WISEMAN ON SAFARI @ Brisbane’s Maud Gallery

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Respectfully Intruding by John Wiseman @ Maud Gallery, Brisbane

August 6  – September 13, 2014.  The exhibition was opened by Ken Duncan on August 8.

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Maud Gallery window

Maud Gallery window

 

John Wiseman’s photography exhibition Respectfully Intruding at Brisbane’s Maud Gallery presents an invitation to go on safari and peek over his shoulder while he observes and photographs wildlife on the African savannah or in the Costa Rican rainforest. Luckily for us his invitation is to the gallery and the trials and complexities of journeys to exotic places are made easy for us. He also saves us the trouble of waiting, waiting, fighting impatience and the agonies of cramped photography vehicles and observation hides. Dust, flies, mosquitoes, things that will sting or eat you are not part of Wiseman’s plan. We are also spared the burdens of travel, airports, border guards with guns and the grind of life in these exotic lands. What we are given are his photographs.

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Maud Gallery installation

Maud Gallery installation

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In the white spaces of Maud Gallery, a kind of ‘safari of wonder’ is encountered –as the visitor wanders through the exhibition of wildlife and flora images. Rhino, elephant, leopard and lion of Africa inhabit the front room. Then in contrast to the ochres, browns and blacks, there are birds, flowers, frogs and snakes in green, yellow and turquoise of the rainforest that inhabit the large inner gallery. The bridge between these two environments is the photography style and vision of John Wiseman.

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Leopard

The Lioness

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We are no stranger to subjects like these as they have adorned National Geographic magazines, a thousand Attenborough ‘Life on Earth’ TV programs and countless coffee table books. We may have become so familiar with these subjects that these new works may just become just another ‘one of those’. But I would say look again. Wiseman is no quick snap wildlife shooter – his images exhibit careful consideration for subject and the moment captured. His arrangement and design of the image and concern for lighting takes images to the perfect moment that we think only Photoshop fakery could reveal. But these are real images from single exposures straight out of the camera without much post capture treatment.

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Blue Eyes

Blue Eyes

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Individual images stand out and draw your attention to the framed photograph – for those who love cats, a stunning image of a leopard with clear eyes will hold you in it’s mesmerising and piercing gaze. In another photograph entitled, ‘Family Portrait’, a lioness and four playful cubs look off camera with ears pricked up, attention aroused – for the viewer there is an ability to take in that frozen moment. Someone with an understanding of safari photography will wonder low long and what patience it took for Wiseman to get such an image.

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Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Hummingbird

Blue Hummingbird

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In the Central American space humming birds dance and glide in many frames. Frozen in flight, something that is particularly difficult to photograph, these birds are like airborne jewels with iridescent colouring attracted to equally colourific blooms. Once again Wisemans mastery of technique gets the photo but his sense of design, moment of capture, concern for background and subject placement make these extraordinary photographs. A multiple electronic flash setup is used to create these images and in a few photos Wisemen has synchronised the flash with a slow shutter speed allowing a frozen moment, as in the other images, to be combined with the blur of the wings in the longer moment of capture. For me this tells the greater story of the little bird’s hovering capacity and the beauty of this feathered flight.

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Hummingbird

Hummingbird Feeding

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Toucan in the rain

Toucan in the rain

 

The Costa Rican rainforest also has its share of frogs that perform for Wiseman’s camera. Colours, backgrounds, movement and clarity once again reflect Wiseman’s fascination for the natural world. Other images that evoke response include a toucan in the rain, and the sinister shapes of snakes, the most beautiful of which hides camouflaged in the framework of a heliconia flower.

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Frog

The Serenity of Sleep

Snake on heliconia

Viper on heliconia.

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In an artist’s statement Wiseman states that he finds in his photography adventures: ‘The intoxicating excitement of the animals of Africa; the size, beauty and grace of these creatures and the love of the chase.’ And that most certainly is evident in the photographic works presented to us in this exhibition. And unlike many who venture, or have in the past, ventured into exotic lands in search of the hunt and big game with a gun – John Wiseman has been, and shot big and small game, and presented his trophies of the living things for us to observe and share his excitement and wonder of these things.

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John Wiseman reading up on Costa Rican birds

John Wiseman reading up on Costa Rican birds

 

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Doug Spowart   18 August 2014

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Texts and installation photos © Doug Spowart 2014     Photographs from the exhibition © John Wiseman

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4 Responses

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  1. Simply breathtaking, will try and see next week while in Brisbane.

    catherinemccueboes

    August 20, 2014 at 10:17 am

  2. Looking forward to a viewing when we get home.

    Tony Marsden

    August 21, 2014 at 8:01 pm

  3. And a gentlemen to top it off! 🙂

    David Glazebrook

    August 22, 2014 at 6:38 am


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