Michael Hoppen Contemporary is delighted to announce an exhibition of Michael Eastman's Havana series. This magical body of work exposes the colourful and crumbling interiors and exteriors of Cuba's capital. Eastman is recognized for his large-scale photographs of the world's most beautiful cities including Rome, Paris, and New Orleans. Inspired by Aaron Siskind, Eastman is transfixed by the textures of architectural decay and the narrative they reveal about the life of a building. This often leads Eastman to abstraction: areas of walls are cropped, reducing them to flat painterly planes of colour. In other instances, he draws us in with expansive perspectives creating inviting depths into rooms and doorways. His exacting technique of long exposure times, no artificial light and a wide angled lens captures a realistic field of vision, authentic light and colour.
"Putting one of his photographs up is like punching a hole in the wall and opening onto a vista of a much grander room than the one you are in"- Vicki Goldberg
It is the details of these pictures which make them endlessly fascinating and poignant: ghostly rectangles of lighter colour on walls where paintings once hung, beach chairs that stand in for finely carved furniture, laden clothes lines hanging amongst chandeliers, above intricately tiled floors. But these exquisitely deteriorating rooms and facades also tell a larger story: these are the homes of the successful and rich, who were knocked off their pedestals by revolution and whose country, abandoned by its Russian supporters and blockaded by America, still has very little in the way of material goods. While his photographs may provoke nostalgia for the glory days of Havana, Eastman's emphasis is on the subtle grandeur of these buildings in ruin, the beauty inherent in decay.
Michael Eastman is a self taught photographer. He lives in St. Louis. Eastman's photographs have appeared in Time, Life, and American Photographer. His work is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and other prestigious institutions. His books include Vanishing America (2008, Rizzoli), Horses (2003, Knopf), and Havana (2011, Prestel).