With his most recent pictures, Gus Powell has abandoned the role of photographer as flaneur. While his previous photographs reflected an open-ended look at the world around him, these are close up and personal. His earlier pictures have been described as recordings of private moments in public places, but his new images are deeply private. They reflect on a time in his life when the pain of witnessing his sick father diminish and the joy of watching his beautiful daughters grow intersected. As one life exits, a new generation takes its place.
Powell’s pictures gently chronicle his father’s painful death from cancer, telling a story of love and loss. In counterpoint to images of his father’s ebbing life are photos of his young daughters. It is hard not to be seduced by the quirky images of his girls, who joyfully inhabit his photographs. The images do not conform to classical composition rules. Empty spaces push the action to the periphery – in his beach picture, for example, where the girls and their mother are at the edge of the frame and the center fades away. They are charming, rather than cute. The third group of photographs is of the family car. Often breaking down, the Volvo carries the family to happy and sad places, physically and symbolically.
Powell is inspired by cinema and Family Car Trouble unfolds like an intimate, realistic film by French director Maurice Pialat. Powell tells a tale of life as it happens, poetically interwoven, stylistically cohesive. His pictures are close to the bone; there are no photographs of him, but he is, nevertheless, present throughout.