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Square Scapes 2012

Limited Edition of 550 copies
Soft cover - Section Sewn - with
(3D Pop-Up cube insert)
Offset print
16 x16cm
76 pages with 30 colour plates
ISBN: 978-0-9874203-1-2


“Square Scapes” is photographer Simon Bernhardt’s latest offering, following on from his previous publication, “Polaroid Holiday”, and continues to explore his fascination with the minutiae of the urban wilderness.
A willingness to search for beauty in the most unlikely places is demonstrative of a resolutely determined aesthete and his work is openly referential towards the great Australian painter to whom this volume is reverently dedicated.

Like Jeffrey Smart, Bernhardt’s subjects are the overlooked, the commonplace, the bog ordinary, that come to life, assume a life, under the stringent interpretation of the artist’s gaze. The desire to make us see what is in front of us, properly and for the first time, is surely the yardstick by which to measure true artistic temperament and is transparently this photographer’s raison d’être.

What is obvious about these photographs, subject matter aside, is the rigour and precision with which they were created. There is, in their realisation, evidence of a strong desire to make sense of the world, to create order in the midst of disorder, and to share that vision.

Here is Bernhardt’s own personality announcing itself: a perfectionist, almost mathematically so, by his own admission, an uncompromising didact - but a gifted and industrious one none-the-less.

His output in many fields of photography has been prolific, but here is a heartfelt and idiosyncratic offering. From a man driven to create, by the internal machinations that define him, comes this.... a collection of images - bitter, sweet, strangely familiar, and as nourishing to the palate vernacular as a pizza after a dozen beers.

As with any physical accomplishment or sporting prowess, ease of execution is a myth, and one that belies the painstaking application that is required to achieve success.

Bernhardt’s subjects are meticulously sought out and researched. The ordinary-ness requires a patience and determination that is anything but that. Extraneous details are eschewed. Framing is exacting. Proportion and scale become subjects in themselves. Colour and lighting become sympathetic allies in the revealing of the spirit of things.
It’s about what to leave out, as much as what to leave in.

For a serious man, there is though, it must be said, an abundance of whimsy in these images and I often found myself laughing quietly while preparing this book. A car park? A street sign? A factory wall? Who else but monsieur Bernhardt….?

To regard these images, these visual bon mots, and to find delight therein (as I have) is a satisfying, demanding, and provocative journey of discovery.

If you feel the inclination to pick up your own camera after viewing this book, and with a fresh perspective on the world around you, seek out the beauty you find there, then Bernhardt’s task will have been much rewarded.

Ian Murdoch