A & E

David Mitchell: Boundaries

David Mitchell, AB 200, 2014, archival pigment print, 49.45 x 40 inches, edition of 3, 67 x 55 inches, edition of 2

Through March 12, 2015, The Dryansky Gallery is featuring the work of David Mitchell in the exhibition Boundaries. The gallery opened last fall and is offering San Francisco a fresh approach to emerging and mid-career artists from around the world working in various mediums.

Boundaries, Mitchell’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast, features a series of hard-edged abstract photographs inspired by Piet Mondrian, Ilya Bolotwosky, Burgoyne Diller, Mark Rothko, and post modern architecture. The photographs, inspired by minimalism, represent a paring down of form to its essentials. Unlike traditional photography that typically records reality, narrative and meaning in Mitchell’s photographs are abandoned. In the geometry of empty space, shadows and light are employed as a part of the work, acting as a kind of substitute for representation in the form of recognizable imagery. The identity of the art object becomes mysterious in its simplicity. Urban environments and interiors inspire his approach to color and form that, when paired down, create their own meaning.

Dryansky Gallery’s co-director, Jilian Adi Monribot (whose first solo exhibition ended last month) discovered Mitchell’s work in 2011 at RMA Institute in Bangkok. She knew immediately that she wanted to exhibit his work: “I was struck by the conundrum it presented — I had no idea how the work was created or that it was even photography at all,” she says. “… [I was] drawn to its enigmatic depiction of something both modern and contemporary at the same time, I felt … invited into someone’s smart, deep and analytical mind; and I found the invitation into that head-space compelling.”

Born in Brighton, England in 1964, Mitchell enjoyed a career in fashion photography in the eighties. He moved to Hong Kong in 1991 to pursue editorial work for Elle and Vogue. After experiencing partial seizures in 2004, he was diagnosed with Left Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (LTLE). The condition affected his ability to work commercially, but this limitation paradoxically opened doors to new creative possibilities in Mitchell’s art process. In the studio, Mitchell creates images beginning with sketches that are translated into collage and assemblages, which are then interpreted by the camera. Imagery melts away, leaving impressions that have more to do with the “somethingness” of objects that, in the process of observation, gives the viewer room to dream.

David Mitchell’s Boundaries: The Dryansky Gallery, 2120 Union Street, 415-932-9302,; Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

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Sharon Anderson is an artist and writer in Southern California. She can be reached at