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Manchester and New York: visit this exhibition

Thalia Allington-Wood lives and loves a great new exhibition from Jan Chlebik

Published on December 2nd 2008.

Manchester and New York: visit this exhibition

Walking into the relatively new Artland gallery, a small, personal and welcoming space, I did not expect to leave so moved.

Jan Chlebik’s photographs are stunning.

Black and white prints that capture the emotion and beauty of urban cityscapes. Towers and office blocks become grids, patterns. Car filled streets are abstracted into blurred silhouettes. These are images familiar and alien. Surprising and poignant.

Chlebik’s images express the experience of city life. Of being lost, insignificant, within a sea of people, buildings and production, and of simultaneously being empowered as an individual. Surrounded by opportunity and activity.

This might sound odd as the photographs present a distinct absence of people. Moments of solitude are snapped by Chlebik’s camera lens. Early mornings, quiet evenings. His cities are still, empty, waiting.

Yet in Chlebik’s photographs it is the people in the indistinguishable cars, and behind the many windows and doors that are presented. It is what we cannot see, what the buildings contain that are important. Voices articulated by the city landscapes.

Manchester and New York stand side by side. The line of difference between the two cities becomes undefined. The order of the photographs jumbled. Buildings are shown to be the universal motif of human assertions. They express our collective ambition and also our individual routines. They are evidence of our existence. As Chlebik states, buildings and rooftops are ‘a snapshot of life going on, continuous and all encompassing’.

In hazy backgrounds, the buildings rise through the mist like phantoms. In some, the solid buildings slice into far reaching skies. Modern Towers of Babel. Roads that carry solitary cars into harsh white distances feature heavily: journeys being made, beginning or ending, images of potential, independence and freedom. Clocks are also prominent. Time is shown frozen, but suggests it’s passing, evokes the visibility of change. Old churches next to glass towers: the collage and layering of historical architecture visible when walking through our streets.

The blurred images, highly contrasted, turn churches and skyscrapers into dark shadows. X-ray skeletons of daily urban existence. Chlebik’s use of light is wonderful. It shines from above, floats or sears ethereal on window pains and streets. In some, the lines are so sharp the buildings are almost returned to architectural graphics. Routine layered by the many streets and tiled by repetitive windows. Home is made surreal.

There is a sense of nostalgia. The Great Gatsby. Romance. Sadness. Hope. Glamour. Loss. Past and future. All are invoked when standing before Chlebik’s photographs.

They are beautiful and absorbing images. Jan Chlebik’s work makes the minute and huge elements of the city graceful and bold. They articulate a sense of memory. Narrate the possibility present in Manchester, New York, and any urban space.

Go and take a look.

Until 13 December 2008. Prices start from £400
Artland Gallery
Basement Office, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street
Manchester, M2 5NS
Tel: 07747 045 986

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

A realistDecember 2nd 2008.

Er Jon Threl, poo poo to you, while I was in there reading the blurb on the Frank Worth photographer it said that Christie's auction house said it was the best collection they had seen in 50 years.

Hans ClementDecember 2nd 2008.

Lovely article which matches the great photos in the show. That one above showing the cars dwarfed by the Empire State Building is astonishing. Manchester looks like Gotham or some such. I recommend it too.

Ms JDecember 2nd 2008.

Beautiful photos; terrific review. I'll be visiting ASAP. More from this writer please Man Con!

A RealistDecember 2nd 2008.

Well I went to both galleries and found both interesting. It seems some people on here take themselves far too seriously and should accept that different people can enjoy different forms of art (I can't stand Picasso).

Jon ThrelDecember 2nd 2008.

Er Realist not really. Cheblik's work is art, the stuff on New York Street is pastiche, derivative and the sort of thing they'd put up in a mid-range Knutsford wine-bar.

DaviesDecember 2nd 2008.

That stuff in New York Street is the sort of stuff you see in the Arndale Market. Where's the picture of the tiger in the satin finish, where's the whale's tail coming out of the water. Cheblik's stuff is moving. I went down there after this review and loved it.

A realistDecember 2nd 2008.

If your into the whole Black and White photo's from the 30's, 40's and 50's you should check out the Generation Pop art gallery on New York Street (just off Mosley Street).

Artland GalleryDecember 2nd 2008.

Hi everyone!Just a quick note to help you, our guests, find us - it is a bit of a mission if you don't know where to go!Artland Gallery is located in the basement of the Friends Meeting House, just behind Central Library (the big round one!). If you were to stand facing the Friends Meeting House, on the left hand side of the building you'll see a narrow street called Bootle Street - the entrance to the gallery is a little way down Bootle street - you'll see our sign on your right, just press the buzzer and we'll let you in!We hope to see you soon!Sincerely,Artland Gallery

Artland GalleryDecember 2nd 2008.

Hi again!Yes, the gallery is open on the 13th, that's the last day of this exhibition.The opening hours on Saturdays are 1pm-4pm.Sincerely,Artland Gallery

costelloDecember 2nd 2008.

Come on, Realist - that Gen Pop art stuff is tat. JC's work is Proper - let's not blur the clear line between a criminally unknown Manchester talent and that production line schmutz, pur-lease!

Mr Clement againDecember 2nd 2008.

By the way I stumbled on the place it's a nightmare to find. It's in the building opposite Central Library and next to Beluga on Mount Street. The gallery's in the old second hand bookshop that used to lurk there.

toastDecember 2nd 2008.

will this be there on the 13th as thats the soonest i can make it?

JenDecember 2nd 2008.

I love that one taken from above on the crowded intersection in NY. I want that one. How much is it?

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