Scouting: Chip Hooper

Yesterday I made a trip to a Chelsea contemporary art gallery to see an exhibit of Chip Hooper’s Surf Series at the Robert Mann Gallery on W. 26th Street. One of my resolutions in 2014 is to graduate from point-and-shoot or iphone photos and actually learn something about photography. But, I have to be honest: my new camera is a little intimidating – multiple lenses, a variety of settings, where to start? So, this little excursion was part inspiration, part encouragement and wow was it worth the trip.

 Chip Hooper Surf #1082, 2003; Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chip Hooper Surf #1082, 2003; Image: Laura Messersmith

 Chip Hooper Surf #2010, 2012; Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chip Hooper Surf #2010, 2012; Image: Laura Messersmith

The gallery has a group of 8 large-scale black and white photographs that fill up the relatively small space. As the name of the series more than implies, the subject matter is the ocean – specifically detail shots of waves and water in motion off the coast of Northern California and New Zealand. Unlike a traditional seascape that might include a glimpse of shore or sky these images are so up close and personal that they appear abstract. Beautiful.

 Chip Hooper Surf #1176, 2003; Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chip Hooper Surf #1176, 2003; Image: Laura Messersmith

 Chip Hooper Surf #2000, 2012; Image  Laura Messersmith

Chip Hooper Surf #2000, 2012; Image Laura Messersmith

While I was there one of the gallery assistants told me that Chip Hooper made these images over the years in between shots of what he was really there to photograph. That essentially this body of work came about somewhat unintentionally and eventually evolved into being the actual subject. That blew me away. If these are his one-offs, then I have some serious work to do...

All in all - I am definitely glad I made the trek to the other side of the High Line and I have a feeling I’ll be keeping closer tabs on the Chelsea gallery scene from now on!