Perhaps because he is Canadian, photographer Jeff Wall seems to enjoy showing vast natural spaces, with just a few human figures, sometimes in surreal settings such as olive harvest workers sleeping out in the open under the blue skies near a prison where thousands sleep enclosed in cells and surveyors laying out the boundary in the desert, while he also creates diptychs and triptychs with the same people moving from one panel to another through interior spaces or through well-landscaped gardens. He achieves the same results with interiors such as his ‘Weightlifter’ – a solitary figure in an empty interior space – and ‘Parent-Child’ where the main figures stand alone from the shopping mall behind them.
Then, a complete contrast, his photograph ‘Recovery’ shows dozens figures on a colourful beach, all (apart from one) incomplete like incomplete paintings from studios you see in art galleries. One man is complete, but what is he recovering from; what shadows does he leave behind him?
On show at the White Cube Gallery in St James’s, which, apart from the fact that there are were no people in the Yard around it, could be an empty urban space in one of Jeff Wall’s photographs.