Alchemy presents three generations of camera-less photography: Pierre Cordier made his first chemigram in 1956, Garry Fabian Miller began his darkroom era in 1984, and Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer is making her London gallery debut with this exhibition. Just as alchemists experiment in both chemistry and spirituality, these artists deeply consider the chemical and physical properties of their mediums while simultaneously meditating on the human condition, giving form and concept equal weight.
All three artists engage with their mediums through a thoughtful respect for the unpredictable aspects of controlled experimentation. As Fabian Miller’s remaining sheets of Cibachrome paper pass their expiry date, he does not know when the chemistry of the paper will fail or when he will make his final print. In recent works, he uses flames to accentuate the destruction of the chemicals. For Cordier, there is “an element of uncontrollable chance” in the physical and chemical transformations that take place to create a chemigram. And Nikolova-Kratzer describes her process as a negotiation with the chemistry: “The chemistry has a say in the final image."