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Item Name: Photograph
Title: Cactus Hills (Documentation #92.9.30/2)
Maker: Patrick Close
Year: 1992
Country: Canadian
Materials: palladium/platinum contact print on palladio paper
Measurements: overall: 19.5 cm x 49.5 cm
ID Number: PC94.2

Extended Label Info: This photograph is one of a series of landscapes by Patrick Close entitled “Meditations on Place” exhibited at Dunlop Art Gallery (1993) and toured nationally. Taken in the Cactus Hills, the image shows two sets of tire tracks in a farmer’s field. Verging on minimalism, this austere, almost banal view is transformed by Close’s photographic process, which used an antique, large-format Burke & James view camera which makes 8X20 inch negatives, ideal for contact printing. Contact prints, which are made by sandwiching the negative directly onto photographic paper, are very detailed and sharply focused, unlike standard prints, which are enlarged from much smaller negatives, and have less visual information. Close printed his own photos in the dark room, using the historical method of palladium or platinum printing. Because platinum (like gold) is a stable metal and resistant to oxidation, this method results in archival prints that will not fade over time. When developed, the platinum print has a velvety matte surface and a rich tonal range. In this photo, the exquisite details and soft greys of the ploughed field invite us to contemplate the land as we would the raked patterns of a Zen garden, and paradoxically, as we look at the landscape, we also become aware of the photograph as a physical object. Patrick Close (1950- ) was born in Hafford, Saskatchewan. Close became interested in photography at the age of ten, setting up his own darkroom in a closet. He studied at McGill University in Montreal from 1967 to 1968, before returning to Saskatchewan to earn his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Saskatchewan in 1973. Close first worked at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon as a medical photographer. In 1975, he became a lecturer and audio-visual technician at the University, and Director/Curator for the Photographer’s Gallery, an artist-run center which is now part of AKA/Paved. In addition to his work as an artist, Close enjoyed a long career as an arts administrator, working for the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Sask Museums Association, and from 1990 to 2012, CARFAC Saskatchewan. His photographs have been exhibited nationally, and are held in numerous collections, including the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Sweden; the National Gallery of Canada; and Stedelijk Museum Het Toreke in Belgium.