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Larry Clark - Los Angeles 2003 - 2006

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION of new photographs by the renowned American photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark, Los Angeles 2003 – 2006, will be on display at the Simon Lee Gallery from February 5 to March 14, 2008.

Los Angeles 2003 – 2006 reflects the artist’s life-long interest in the subject of today’s youth within a marginalized urban environment. In this particular body of work, he has captured the physical transformation of Jonathan Velasquez throughout the period of his adolescent years.

Clark met Jonathan, a teenager living in South Central Los Angeles, purely by chance. Yet it was an encounter that inspired him to write and direct the film Wassup Rockers.

In this obsessive four year photographic chronicle of Jonathan’s life, viewers experience not so much the unfolding of a series of portraits but rather the weaving of the subject’s personal life within the context of a particular social milieu common to so many of today’s urban youth subcultures.

Building upon Clark’s previous photographic accomplishments, beginning with Tulsa, Teenage Lust, 1992, the Perfect Childhood, punk Picasso, and in film with Kids, Bully, Ken Park and Wassup Rockers, this series of photographs further probes with equal intensity and unabashed honesty the often subtle, often glaring changes that all youth, and in particular Jonathan, go through in their teenage years.

The close-up shots, the full length frontal views, the groupings of Jonathan with his friends all combine to portray the vulnerability as well as the subjects’ expressions of newfound individuality, vitality and independence of life style. The large scale pigment prints reflect a departure for Clark from the more spare and documentary sensibility that characterize his earlier work, and in so doing allow for a more tender and evocative exploration of his subject.

A monographic publication featuring the entire series of photographs will accompany the exhibition, which opens to the public on Tuesday, February 5, 2008. The artist will be present for a book signing on Wednesday, February 6, between 3pm and 5pm.

Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkely Street, London, W1J 8DT.