Mark Citret at the Photo-Eye Gallery
by Laura Addison
It is far too easy to lament photography’s new technologies, as many purists do, for its concomitant loss of craftsmanship in printmaking. Likewise, it seems that every photographer has his or her shtick, a conceptual signature that claims to push photogrpahy to some never-before explored intellectual realm. But when you come across Mark Citret’s swooningly beautiful photographs, unpretentious yet hypnotic, all the laments and rhetoric fade away. Concerns about printmaking fall by the wayside, for Citret’s process, which yields what he calls “vellum” prints, has a rare tonal warmth that distinguishes his work.
Citret undertakes landscapes and architectural studies with equal finesse. An ethereal quality pervades his idyllic sense of place, whether the image be of mist clinging to the water’s edge or ancient cypresses venturing tentatively forth from an Italian village enshrouded in fog. Standing before the photographs, you wish you could inhabit them the way the contentedly sleeping dog of Ebby, San Gregorio does, snuggled in high grasses overlooking the ocean. They are scenes that seem possible only in a dream. That these were moments actually lived, not summoned like a castle in the sky, leaves you agog, desirous, and in pensive reverie.
Six seascapes are among Citret’s studies of nature. They have a warmth and texture not found in Sugimoto’s cool contemplations of the ocean. These photographs of glowing sky and shimmering sea effectively line a single gallery wall, causing the subtle variations to be as prominent as is the sublime repetition. Remarkably, the seascapes bear uncanny similarities to the reductivist simplicity of many of Citret’s architectural studies. Daylight enters through a door in Empty Room and softly illuminates the concrete space. The understated tonal distinction, as wall meets wall, is comparable to the barely distinguishable delineation between sky and sea. Both represented spaces, natural and man-made, present unyielding solitude, as if you were the only one present to marvel at their unspeakable beauty.
Windows and doors can be cliches, but Citret utilizes these elements successfully as liminal spaces between exterior and interior. Cafe, Monument Valley, taken from inside a darkened and vacated diner, juxtaposes outer and inner worlds. The empty room, with a table set with place mats and glasses, feels like it has been awaiting customers for decades. On the other side of two picture windows are colossal and timeless natural forms. The two scenes, interior and exterior, seem so incongruous that to a modern-day technophile it might seem like Photoshop trickery. Yet it is merely Citret bringing his two greatest subjects—landscape and architecture— into singular accord.