The cinematic vision of Graham Miller

AGWA Graham Miller Josephine 2010Graham Miller is one of Western Australia’s most important photographers. He is known for his richly atmospheric images that combine cinematic vision with the eye-for-subtle-detail of a short story writer. On exhibition until 28 February 2016, the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s WA Focus display presents works spanning more than fifteen years of Miller’s output.

It comes together around two distinct threads: a body of landscape works and a group of portraits. Generous in spirit and outlook, Miller’s works are emotionally rich and often quite moving portraits of people and places. Each portrait invites curiosity about the possible events that have brought his subjects to this point in their lives, and each landscape evokes the sensation of being fully within the urban and natural environments presented.

The resulting works are a hypnotic combination of staged reality, with Miller often combining straight documentary photographs with constructed imagery. In his own words, Miller has long been interested in the ambiguity of images. “The way that all photographs have elements of fabrication and truth-making.”

“When I take photographs I am less interested in documentary fact than in trying to stay attuned to the psychological and emotional impacts of an ordinary world transformed by light. It is the influences of cinema, literature and painting that seem to inform me when I see ‘the photographic’,” said Miller.

Included in this display are works from Miller’s most important series, Waiting for the Miracle 2010 that developed from Miller’s response to the Leonard Cohen song of the same name; All That is Solid Melts into Air 2013/2014 that charts the people and landscapes of the Blue Mountains around Katoomba; and American Photographs a body of work taken on an American road trip in 2009. The exhibition also include two works shot in China in 2010, five small duo-tone riso prints on the subject of looking, and several Australian works not yet exhibited by Miller.

Works for the WA Focus display were selected by AGWA Curator of Contemporary International Art Robert Cook and Miller over several months. “It’s been a fascinating process working with Graham on this exhibition,” says Curator Robert Cook.

“After going over his body of work from the early 2000s to the present, we’ve selected a group that says something about the compositional and thematic structures that underpin his work. In doing so, it will open up an understanding of the way he thinks about individual pictures and about narrative arcs, and how these two forms speak to and against each other.”

“Following this logic, Miller’s WA Focus display present clusters of works around his recurring motifs: pathways into landscapes, sky studies, parents, dogs, women and young men. Through these quite straightforward subjects, we see Miller’s innate ability to evoke the internal lives of others though the medium of the camera, demonstrating a real regard and respect for the human condition.”

Graham Miller is a photographer whose work has been exhibited internationally and throughout Australia, including the Haggerty Museum USA, Southeast Museum of Photography USA, Pingyao International Festival of Photography China, One Eyed Jacks Gallery UK, Recontres Photographie Internationale de Niort France, Kaunas Photo Lithuania, F/Stop Festival Leipzig Germany, Yokohama Photography Festival Japan, the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Perth Centre for Photography.

WA Focus – Graham Miller
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth
Exhibition continues to 28 February 2016
Free entry

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Image: Graham Miller, Josephine 2010 (detail). Pigment print, 80 x 100 cm. Courtesy Graham Miller and Turner Galleries © Graham Miller, 2010.