Walter & Zoniel - Photographs London Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    The collaborative duo Walter & Zoniel work across multiple media, including photography, installation, sculpture, film and performance. Referencing early photographs such as salt prints, ambrotypes and tintypes they have developed their own unique techniques that capture the lives of their subjects in unprecedented ways. Created during a 3-month residency at Four Corners, a production and exhibition centre for film and photography, Iconostatus celebrates London’s East End through 18 portraits of street youths from a single road in Hackney. Inspired by religious paintings yet completely contemporary, these meticulously hand-painted and gilded life-size portraits show their subjects with a new ‘iconostatus’. By constructing an imaginary, iconographic world, Walter & Zoniel remove their subjects from the negative connotations of street culture and redefine this often misunderstood sector of society.

    To create this work the artists hark back to the wet-plate collodion process and the tintype. Walter & Zoniel’s contemporary tintype portraits are life-sized and produced on black tin. Their elaborate execution involved a number of varied processes. They first designed and constructed a transportable 8 x 8 foot wooden camera, which also functioned as a darkroom for processing the photographs. Once the walk-in camera was installed on-site, the artists engaged with potential sitters as they walked by and invited them to have their portraits taken. Each tin plate was hand-coated with collodion, exposed for 25-39 seconds, developed then fixed inside the giant camera. In the final stage, these unique metal photographs were hand-coloured with multiple layers of ink, pigment and oil paint then hand-gilded with 24 carat gold-leaf. The resulting work bears the marks of its creation – striations, brush strokes and fingerprints – challenging the idea that beauty is synonymous with perfection. Aiming to make their art accessible, Walter & Zoniel have exhibited and performed in diverse locations, ranging from the Venice Biennale and Tate Britain to warehouses and West End clubs.

    During the Photographs viewing from 12-18 May, the 8 x 8 foot camera produced for Iconostatus will be installed in our Berkeley Square galleries.




Unique polyptych comprised of 18 direct positive photographs on tin with ink, pigment and oil paint, and 24 carat gold-leaf gilding.
Each image/sheet: 50.4 x 40.4 cm (19 7/8 x 15 7/8 in.)
Each frame: 57.2 x 47.2 cm (22 1/2 x 18 5/8 in.)
Overall: 171.6 x 283.2 cm (67 1/2 x 111 1/2 in.)

Signed in ink, printed title and date on a Certificate of Authenticity accompanying the work.

This work is unique.

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £30,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7901 7996

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098


London Auction 18 May 2017