Book Review: Heavenly Creatures by Sally Gall
The beautifully abstracted photographs of intimate items of clothing animated by the wind, and kites dancing in the sky are the focus of…
The beautifully abstracted photographs of intimate items of clothing animated by the wind, and kites dancing in the sky are the focus of Sally Gall in Heavenly Creatures. Blue skies provide the background for fanciful objects which are full of motion and mirth. Viewing her work is like listening to, and appreciating, a transcendental poem — its a mystical experience that transforms the tangible into eloquent abstraction.
Gall was first drawn to the swirling movement of color overhead when she visited a town in Italy and noticed laundry hung out to dry. The opportunity to explore the potential for this series of images came after recognizing the human story behind the articles of clothing. Who wore those jeans, whose dress is that? — the images seemed to ask. The intimate objects hung in a public space transcended mere fabric billowing in the breeze.
Gall pursued the project by traveling to locations she felt would capture the sensual combination of light, wind and colorful fabrics in coastal towns in Italy, Cuba and Croatia. Her images of kites shot on a Pacific beach, Italy, Denmark or New Jersey add other elements of abstraction that evoke the feeling of floating creatures or diaphanous objects in water; jellyfish, plankton, kelp, or floating flowers.
In her text included in Heavenly Creatures, Gall makes a point to mention that after being a black-and-white photographer for over thirty years, “I felt the allure of ecstatic color.” She started making images “increasingly evocative of Miro, Kandinsky, and other non-representational painters I admire.” Gall also comments, “I left the horizon behind, abandoned all referential context, and used the power of the sky as a field on which to explore the painterly elements of line, form, shape, color, pattern, and texture.”
A peaceful, tranquil feeling settled over me when looking at Gall’s work. It made me consider if the camera was pointed down in to water, or skyward toward the heavens. Her images delight; the gentle flow of fabrics contrasted against pops of bright color, the abstracted lines of a fringed blouse fluttering in the wind, billowing bedlinen, and an anthropomorphic polka dotted kite which evokes a dancing dress, a tropical fish and a soaring bird, all at the same time.
by Sally Gall
Meditation by Eric Fischl
Hardcover, 13 x 8–6/7 inches, 104 pages
Published by powerHouse Books
Sally Gall is a photographer living and working in New York City. In addition to her fine-art career, she teaches photography and creates commissioned work. Her photographs are in numerous museum and private collections and she has a 30-year history of gallery exhibitions. Gall has been awarded several prestigious fellowships which include two MacDowell Colony Residencies and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship. She has published two previous books, The Water’s Edge (Chronicle Books, 1995) and Subterranea (Umbrage Editions, 2003). Gall is looking forward to her 13th solo show at the Julie Saul Gallery in 2019 to accompany Heavenly Creatures.
Originally published at F-Stop Magazine.