Magazine article Artforum International

Sze Tsung Leong: Yossi Milo Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Sze Tsung Leong: Yossi Milo Gallery

Article excerpt

In landscape photography, the horizon line--that inevitable meeting place of earth and sky--is inexorable. Consider early panoramic daguerreotypes by figures such as Fried richvon Martens and William Southgate Porter, the former of the Seine in Paris, 1845, the latter of Philadelphia's Fairmount Water Works, 1848. But while the horizon line may always appear in such images, iris rare to find cases in which it is a work's explicit focus, the photo's raison d'etre. This is in, no small part what makes Sze Tsung Leong's images so striking. The twenty-nine color works that were on display here, uniform in scale (twenty-eight by forty-eight inches), stand in worshipful contemplation of the earth's edge--a line, and with Leong it is almost always a line, without the slightest hint of curvature, where land abruptly ends and the wide-open sky (that is, heaven) begins.

Leong's work is peculiarly sober and solemn, with the earth (which occupies the bottom third of the image) serving as a sort of pedestal on which the immaterial sky is mounted. The landscape is generally empty and barren, desertlike (Masai Mara I and Tsavo West III, both 2009, and Victorville, California, 2006) even when it is green (Avebury 2002) or composed largely of water (Antelope Valley, California, 2006; FlaajOkull, Iceland, 2007). There's a certain austere innocence about these scenes: They show nature at its most materially elemental. Other works depict cities. In such photos, skies of pure blinding-white light rise dismissively over worldly if tired earth-brownish urban landscapes huddled below them. …

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