September 3, 2014

Photographer Benny Chan Exhibits at Christopher W. Mount Gallery

You’ve likely seen—and been wowed by—the work of photographer Benny Chan when perusing the pages of Interior Design magazine. Originally trained as an architect at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Chan worked at firms such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Neil M. Denari Architects before transitioning into the world of photography. Twenty years later, he is now the focus of a solo exhibition Called “(Extra-ordinary) Los Angeles: Photographs by Benny Chan,” opening at Christopher W. Mount’s namesake gallery in Los Angeles on September 17.

Mount first found Chan when he was the director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Chan’s landscapes and sweeping cityscapes struck Mount as more than simple architectural records—these images bridged into art. In the solo show, instead of focusing on the polished architectural compositions that typify Chan’s style, this “art project” records the grittier, mundane, and “other” side of Los Angeles. A dystopic and industrial world is created within 28 images. The large and ominous photographs—15 years in the making—overtake the walls of the gallery. Eerily empty laundromats, airports, and sprawling highways show a more authentic city, leaving behind the glittering Hollywood trope outside the gallery.

Chan points out that the images speak beyond the confines of Los Angeles or even Southern California. “The scale is a microcosm of other crises threatening our very existence—climate change, food and resource shortages—that have grown incomprehensible in size to the average person with few solutions,” Chan says. By turning our attention to our less-than-perfect reality, Chan hopes that the show will have a deeper impact.

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