Metka Vergnion: Photographs 1971-2017

Galerija Fotografija
Ljubljana, Slovenia
5 April – 15 May 2018

In this captivating collection of work, spanning from 1971-2017, photographer Metka Vergnion takes the viewer on a journey through an engaging visual landscape, drawing from diverse and highly personal themes, techniques, and environments. Vergnion’s approach to the medium of photography has always been exploratory. During the course of her artistic career and pursuits, she has developed a unique visual process through which to tell narratives, subsequently inventing new photographic paradigms.

Vergnion is a Slovenia-born/ Swiss adopted, Paris-educated artist who has a degree in photography and cinema from the Louis Lumière School; she is currently based in Lisbon. Her father, renowned Slovenian artist, photographer, and pedagogue introduced Vergnion to photography early on. What began as a childhood game, later captivated her and became her medium of artistic expression. Works in this edition are highlighted selections from several of her series, including Silence, Spiritual Garden, Japanese Moments, and Passers-by, among a host of others.

Leveraging photography as a tool to visualize concrete ideas, Vergnion’s work is a direct reflection of her personal impressions and interactions. This connectivity is evident in her early black and white series of auto-portraits; her ideas first materialized in the darkroom – the laboratory where the basic photographic language changes form and becomes one of the fine arts.

Apart from exploring with black and white techniques, Vergnion transforms the image further in her series by adding color. The intensive, unusual color combinations and contrasts enhance the luminous and tonal transitions of her black and white photography. Her mixed medium approach distills and emphasizes certain aspects of the photograph, adding new dimensions, and drawing the viewer into a deeper engagement with the work.

Vergnion’s early works are mainly graphic monochromes. What follows is a period of conceptual photographic series where narration becomes introspective, intimate, and delicately sensual as evidenced in Self Study, Male Nudes, and Happening. The incorporation of color occurs gradually, first added manually with brush strokes directly onto the silver gelatin print, and later through various analogue and digital procedures. Vergnion acknowledges the influence of painting in her work, in particular the work of abstract artists.

Throughout her career, Vergnion has been a constant pioneer, exploring new dimensions and altering perceptions in the visual language. The descriptive feel of the analog picture is preserved in her images, while the objective-reality is enhanced through the use of computer-generated manipulations, giving life to new levels of texture and dimension. The viewer gains insight into Vergnion’s interest in exploring the relationship between light and shadow, motion and stillness, and parallel realities. By experimenting with the dialectical relationship between the real and the imaginary, she succeeds in incorporating both into her surprising yet subtle work.

The various environments the artist resides in remain a constant leitmotif for her work. In the 80’s, she first encountered Chinese culture, and subsequently produced the series Chinese impressions and Made in HK. In these, scenes of every day life intertwine with detailed graphic elements of ancient calligraphy. Far Eastern cultures largely influence the artist’s work, as well as a thematic emphasis on the spiritual versus the temporal.

Japan- another of her adopted cultures, continues to be a strong source of inspiration in the artist’s life and work. By learning from its art forms, aesthetic concepts, and philosophy, new work emerges. The emphasis is on detail; apprehension of space evolves, colors become subdued and patterns of shadows emerge. Narrative expression is focused on nature and spirituality.

Vergnion’s recent work is an assembly of elements from each of her artistic periods. In her series Osmosis, she explores the idea of duality in her original black and white photographic form. In Parallel Universe, her passion for color interwoven with graphic elements expresses the borderline between the seen and the unseen.

Her creative use of medium, Eastern aesthetics, and metaphorical narration define her photography, synthesizing her expression as a visual artist. The common denominator is a refined, intuitive visual interpretation that creates a strikingly new photographic language, making Vergnion’s work distinctly unique and ever timeless.

Renata Štebih
Anicee Gaddis


Photo: Metka Vergnion