Lewis Khan: ABQ
Artist WebsiteLewis Khan
It is a fact that Albuquerque, abbreviated ABQ is the most populated city in the state of New Mexico. It is also a fact that its population reaches just above 2 million. Yet the character of the city does not let itself be defined that easily by a Google search result. In today’s portfolio review, we take a closer look at the mild and dry climate of Albuquerque seen through the lens of Lewis Khan. Unafraid to throw himself in the new and the unknown, he takes his camera with him to help him engage with the environment around him. Lewis Khan, the photographer of nature and portraiture, is based in London. Khan’s website informs us that photography is a way for him “to be tactile with the world.” What matters for him is the experience rather than the final destination. Citizens of the city take the foreground of his imagery, yet simultaneously nature becomes an equal role as a character in this project.
Khan describes his photography as documentary which is visible in his fly-on-the-wall attitude. People in the photographs are juxtaposed with a broad negative space. A space where nothingness and emptiness become tactile. There are a few black and white images in the project which are used primarily for portraits, while Khan leaves colour for landscape photography. His images work with light which appears to be caught during the golden hour. His organic working process does not trace the symmetry of the everyday, yet paradoxically it seems to find it. Next to yellows, blues dominate the series. Be in the colour of the sky or of the fabric of a hoodie. Colours of each image connect creating a colour spectrum of the project, yet each exists individually to tell its own story. The blues set the peaceful atmosphere in ABQ, their presence appears to not expand but rather is toned down. Maybe it is the vigor of the sun captured by Khan which competes for the attention of the viewer playfully hinting at the energy of the city – is it sleepy or rather awoken and responsive?
Although the foreground of the image is filled with seemingly mundane objects or places, the lines spark curiosity. Sometimes they are organic as trees, sometimes they are straight as the concrete of the pavements. ABQ includes digital, analogue, and stills. Juxtaposing the images against the natural environment gives the photographs a texture. For example, the wood of a fence or the roughness of a brick. In his images, he experiments with its depth either by emphasizing it or making it shallow. Shadows of a setting sun fall onto objects photographed by Khan making it a fun idea to creatively use the space. On the contrary, shadows fall on people’s faces as if they were reflecting a part of their personality.
Khan captures people either directly engaging with his camera, looking down towards the ground, or completely avoiding the device by closing off their eyes. People captured by Khan are expressive and transparent as if they are putting their hearts on their sleeve for us.