Art . Portrait . Reportage
Paul Graham is an English artist whose work has been instrumental in shaping photography as an independent art form and a medium for articulating lived and observed human experience. Graham has received prestigious awards for his contribution to photographic culture, including the Hasselblad Award (2012); the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2009); the W. Eugene Smith Grant (1988); fellowships from Winston Churchill Memorial Trusts (1983); the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2010); and the inaugural Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards prize (2011) for best photographic book of the previous 15 years, a shimmer of possibility (2004-2006). Graham has exhibited internationally and has created solo exhibitions for Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg; La Fábrica, Madrid; Rencontres d'Arles; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Deichtohallen, Hamburg; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Pier 24, San Francisco.
Graham has consistently pushed the language of photography and our expectations of photography’s documentary style and capacity, creating visual metaphors for individual and collective human experiences. Starting with A1—The Great North Road (1983), Graham invites us to encounter and pay attention to the social and historical contexts that shape life and culture. Beyond Caring (1985) is a stark visualization of the realities of unemployment; Troubled Land (1987) was one of the first photographic articulations of the quotidian and embedded presence of the troubles in Northern Ireland; and New Europe (1992) similarly chronicles the shadows of European history and conflict in unexpected sites and situations.
Graham has created critically acclaimed bodies of work that narrate the places, human situations, and inequities of contemporary America. American Night (2003) counterpoints dramatically overexposed photographs of solitary figures on American roadways with color-saturated photographs of suburban homes, suggesting the political invisibility and social blindness to poverty and racism in America. Graham’s acclaimed a shimmer of possibility (2007) is a series of poignant photographic vignettes onto American life, and The Present (2012) is Graham’s timely re-animation of the genre of street photography that calls forth the legacies of American photographers including Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Gary Winogrand, making its own timely departures.