Photographing in South London at Night (2011)

265 Southwark, South London

In November of 2011 I traveled to London to see several exhibitions and to shoot my first ever photography project there. For this purpose I checked into the Bermondsey Square hotel in SE1, Southwark, London, to be in near to Borough market for my morning’s breakfast meal, and to be in short walking distance of South East London at the end of Bermondsey street and further south.

I decided to shoot with two Canon cameras that could fit into my hand and would not need a flash to shoot at night. After eating a late night meal at a nearby all night falafel restaurant, I ventured across Kent road in Southwark with camera in hand. The photos her are a small part of what I shot, and are selected in part for thematic reasons as well as for the aesthetic dimensions they explore and forefront.  The neighborhood reminded me of sections of Brooklyn, New York, with its continuous wall of apartments and family owned fast food restaurants in every direction. But then I would hear the distinctive cry of a London ambulance, and would stare into the reverse flow traffic, and there would be no doubt that although there were clear similarities between this enclave and African-American sections of Brooklyn, there were unique cultural differences as well. There seemed to be a West Indian population in the vicinity, based upon my seeing a few Caribbean restaurants that were still open after midnight. I visited the neighborhood twice after midnight and shot storefronts and buildings, sometimes as people passed by. I also shot in North London and walked across London Bridge into the City of London my first night there. A suite of paintings will follow in response to these and other photographs I shot, as well as art that I saw at The Tate Modern, including the permanent collection and the Gerhard Richter retrospective, the Courtault, the National Gallery of London, The British Museum, and the debut show at White Cube Bermondsey.

What has struck me about the 265 Southwark, South London picture as well as Abstraction at to 261 South London, both shot in the vicinity of Southwark, London, is how these two photographs frame what would be considered an advanced form of abstract collage/painting, with a representational image of an apartment address as the single bit of language that anchors the picture in the real world. Following this are photos shot between the walls of two closed business establishments, which yielded the remarkable abstractions that capture the aging and weather work billboards and decaying building sections.

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California


Abstraction at 251 South London

72-74-76-78-80 South London

All Night Drinks service - London

Apartment 261- South London

London between two walls

London is a wall between two nights

London is a wall between two fights

London nightwood - the peephole

London in the shadow of the sign

South London door locks

Public bar South London

The Royal Blue Door - South London

Virgo's of South London

London at night: The red bus

Memorial to the Blitz: City of London

London Magistrate Court

A Hospital in Southeast London

Vincent Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Painting 1986.  He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.

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