Review: The Rhubarb Triangle and Other Stories @ The Hepworth, Wakefield
February 29, 2016
In today’s society, as almost each and every one of us carry a camera phone in our pockets, photography has become more instant and more accessible than ever before. Anyone can take a photograph, but it takes an artistic eye to create an image that instigates a reaction, or evokes an emotion. Martin Parr is one of those lucky people.
The Rhubarb Triangle and Other stories is a satirical journey through the mundane, capturing the moments, the people and the objects most of us would miss or overlook. Set throughout the beautiful open space of the Hepworth, each room presents a colourful, humorous discourse of the world as seen through Martin Parrs eyes, or rather, lense.
A wall plastered top to bottom with hilarious, experimental self portraits by Parr, of Parr, is the first series of images in the exhibition. Pasting himself into political and iconic situations, Parr combines his deadpan sense humour with his worldly experience of being a photographer. Reflecting society’s obsession with image and taking ‘Selfies’, Parr combines pop culture with his distinctive aesthetic resulting in a series of interesting images. A self portrait with Putin sits alongside a mugshot with Jesus, iridescent in colour and eccentric in curation, showcasing the signature humour Parr has become known for.
As the exhibition moves into the central room, the main focus of the series, his photographs taken in and around the famous Rhubarb Triangle, are displayed as a loud, proud celebration of West Yorkshire and the survival of the Rhubarb industry. As a born and bred resident of Wakefield, this exhibition was an educational journey about the Rhubarb Triangle. Parr presented the men, women and industry behind growing Rhubarb, and the significance it holds to Wakefield in a enlightening and simultaneously aesthetically pleasing manner, withholding his organic approach to photography. Nothing feels staged or forced within Parr’s photography; merely a man and his lense there in the right places at the right time, armed with an exquisite eye for detail.
The closing act of the exhibition is a series of familiar scenes: a trip to the seaside, or a day at the horseracing. However, whilst we can all relate to these experiences, an air of uncertainty fills the frames as these are scenes seen through the eyes of Martin Parr, from angles we don’t think to look from. A final wall tiled with bright close ups of bodies, inanimate objects, spills and scenery draw the exhibition to an infectiously upbeat finale.
All in all, the light, serene space of the Hepworth is the perfect partner for Parr’s bold, bright work, and is a well curated journey through the world as seen by a true photographer.