I visited the Don McCullin exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in Bruton (Somerset) and if you are able to go I would highly recommend a visit.
The exhibition is a mixture of McCullin’s photojournalism of war torn countries from Vietnam and Cambodia to Iraq. However, it also includes some of his early social commentary from the 60s and 70s and some of his Somerset landscapes.
“I want you to look at my photographs. I don’t want you to reject and say: ‘No, I can’t do that. I can’t look at those pictures. They are atrocity pictures.’ Of course, they are. But I want to become the voices of the people in those pictures.” McCullin 2009. https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/don-mccullin-darkness-visible/ (accessed 3rd January 2017)
I found many of the images thought provoking, especially as I have just returned from Vietnam and Cambodia and several of the images were taken in places I visited. I have a passion for social commentary photography and the story they tell of hardship and struggle in a way that could never be described so accurately in words.
I am not sure what McCullin is trying to say in his Somerset landscape section. He portrays the landscape as dark and moody and there is one image which I found particularly hard to “read” because it was so underexposed losing detail in the dark areas – maybe I’m missing something in this image.
One thing I did take away from the exhibition was that although the quality of most of the images were top notch and pin sharp some were less so but this didn’t detract from the impact the image had on the viewer. The composition and subject was what made these images and which obviously appealed to newspaper editors.
Interestingly, McCullin lost his job at The Times when Andrew Neil took over and declared that his images were too gloomy. I wonder what Mr Neil thinks about that decision now.