Visual Art/Aidan Dunne

Michael Boran is a consistently interesting photographic artist who has
never settled complacently into one stylistic niche. Peak, at the Kevin
Kavanagh Gallery, is a particularly good, accomplished show. The title
refers to the idea of a commanding point of view, literally and
figuratively, from where the eye can explore and edit the landscape at
will. Boran treats the notion wittily, with a study, for example, of
what looks like a heap of building sand, symmetrically positioned
between the imposing stone walls of a building that has been allowed
fall into dilapidation: the old making way for the new. The peak here -
the apex of sand - might be the lofty height of arrogant development,
and the overall image is more than the sum of its parts.

Another photograph, of a stack of logs, numerals neatly scored onto
their ends, presumably intended as markers for a nature trail but
currently piled in random disorder, nicely undercuts the conceit of
packaging and ordering the landscape for recreation. If all this sounds
a bit didactic, it is not really so, and the major part of the
exhibition is not at all so, consisting as it does of beautiful studies
of landscape details in Spain (with just the occasional piece of sleight
of hand, as with one repeated, inverted image). The dried-out terrain,
orderly terraces and neat planting makes for meditations on culture and
nature in an unforced, easygoing way. But a real love of the landscape
also comes through. In most of the images, Boran knocks off the sharp
edges we associate with photography, so that the surfaces have a soft,
textural continuity that is, for want of a better word, painterly.

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