A Road Divided

October 22 - December 20, 2008

Stephen Wirtz Gallery presents A Road Divided, new landscape photographs by Todd Hido. Hido’s seasoned practice allows him intermittent moves between the genres of the Portrait and the Landscape, continually adding to and drawing from his ever-expanding archive of images. Following his 2006 debut of previously unseen portraits, Hido has focused his attention once again on the American landscape, a subject explored in his widely acclaimed 2004 series Roaming. Presented mostly in large scale, these photographs hit a new mark, with sublime referrals to painting as a means of aesthetic expression.

Driving lonely roads on the outskirts of American cities, Hido creates poignant images filled with inexplicable gravity, cinematic scenes of places that somehow reside in our collective memory, in a paradoxical realm where sense of place and a sense of displacement co-exist. In these new pictures, Hido demonstrates his fluidity within the daytime realm, putting aside the harder edge that characterizes his night work by photographing through veils of rain or ice. Delicately, potently embracing the beauty of the pictorial, Hido’s new pictures present an image plane that is often fully disintegrated, recalling impressionist painting. With an unquestionably modern affect, he often frames the compositions from inside his car, photographing straight through the windshield, using it as an additional lens and bringing the immediacy of a fleeting moment to these stationary scenes. The visionary experience he records unfolds from close, patient observation. Chance patterns of sprinkling raindrops on the windshield and sunlight breaking the shrouded sky combine to luminous yet unsettling effect

While Hido embraces the aesthetic, he does so with a critical eye. His vision is one of austerity, of America as an empty place, evidenced by crossroads, dead-end streets, broken trees, and highways that never end. Moody and psychological, his landscapes are metaphors for personal emotions, evoking dark things that keep us awake at night. And they are, in a larger sense, a remarkable record of the American Psyche at this moment in history. In them, we find the hopeful, but possibly final, turn-off in the road before the bridge to nowhere.