Sunday, June 28, 2009


Forest. Photographs by Stuart Rome. Nazraeli Press, Tucson, 2005. 52 pp., 36 duotone illustrations, 13x13". Signed copies available from photo-eye.

"Stuart Rome's clear-eyed meditations on the chaos of forest flora provide Nazraeli Press with excellent material for another of their characteristically appealing volumes. From its gratifyingly large plates to its silky green binding cloth, Forest exemplifies Nazraeli's commitment to the tactile pleasures of reading photo books.

It is the images, though, that carry the weight and justify our attention. Significantly, Rome has not captioned the plates in his book. This is not description of specific forest environments, but evocation of the spirits that loom and linger amidst all arboreal surroundings.

These black-and-white images are densely packed, with a quicksilver blend of fine gestural calligraphy, deep spaces of nearly impenetrable shadow, and dramatic splashes of sunlight penetrating the canopy and catching vines and leaves in a mesmerizing grisaille fashion.

These are images to get lost in, and we can be grateful to Rome for having made the journeys through what often seems like impenetrable greenery; it is, sometimes, extremely difficult to imagine where his feet were when he made an image, as his vantage point seems impossibly elevated.

Studying Rome's forests is an exercise in letting go; the circuits your vision takes into, around, and through his photographs are better and more rewarding the less they are forced."

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