David Stephenson

Cupolas

April 16 - May 27, 2004

We are pleased to announce our third exhibition of domes and cupolas by
David Stephenson, marking the end of a decade long project begun in 1993. This body of work was initiated during a residency in Italy on Lake Maggiore near Milano, where Stephenson became fascinated by the architecture and decoration of the ecclesiastical domes, and how these dimly lit interiors became visible through long photographic exposures, revealing space that would be impossible to see in person. The various symbolic associations of the dome- from the tent of heaven and the sky to the lantern as the oculus of the eye or the camera make this subject resonant for Stephenson, who has been preoccupied with themes of the sublime throughout twenty years of making photographs- including themes of landscapes, clouds and the stars.

The cupola project has become an odyssey for Stephenson, and he has worked laboriously through many countries and bureaucracies to achieve this body of work. He has identified and photographed churches, mausoleums, palaces, mosques and synagogues in many countries- including Italy, France, Spain, Germany Austria, and Turkey. They are all shot straight up and symmetrically with long exposures. The photographs flatten and abstract the space of the domes, emphasizing the geometry of their structures.

In this third exhibition of domes we will exhibit 16 large scale color photographs which have all been executed during the last four years. The sites include Spain, Poland, Hungary and Russia, and the architecture and decorations range from the exuberant gilt carvings of the Alhambra, to the austere monochromatic geometry of the eastern European churches and majesty of the Byzantine. The universality of the structure and meaning of this most ancient of architectural forms through patrons and builders of so many nationalities and beliefs serves as a reminder of the commonalities of human aspirations. Also included is a recent development in the cupola project, a 47 minute video which presents over a millennium of history, from the ancient Pantheon to a 19th century synagogue in Hungary in a compressed animation sequence.

Stephenson has a PhD from the University of Tasmania where he heads the Photography Department at the School of Art. He has received numerous grants in Australia, and while still living in the US received an NEA and Ford Foundation Grant. For over twenty years his work has been exhibited and collected internationally at museums and galleries. Among over thirty international public collections in which his work is included are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the George Eastman House, the Hallmark Collection , the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC.

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