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‘Siren City’ is a collection of Johnnie Shand Kydd’s black-and-white photographs of Naples, which is known as the ‘Siren City’ for its mythological and modern day associations.
Despite its sublime setting, Naples has been at worst abused and at best neglected over the years following the unification of Italy in 1860. There is much in the way of beauty and Shand Kydd undoubtedly captures the light, vivacity and carnality of Naples as well as the darker side of paganism inherent to its history. Every street and piazza is a stage. His photographs, taken between 2000 and 2008, retain something of the seduction of 19th century photography. He sees that it would be easy to paint a bleak picture of Naples but captures much hilarity, expressing a unique and classical coupling of grief with humour.
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After working for a number of years at a Bond Street Gallery selling 19th century paintings, Shand Kydd began taking photographs of his artist friends and peers. As a participant - as opposed to an observer - he captured the community of Young British Artists before they became household names.
From March ‘96 to July ‘97 he photographed the contents of the book Spitfire (Violette, 1997) and Crash (Damiani/2006), which documents the YBAs and others, and demonstrates Shand Kydd’s refined, straightforward and confident approach in both theme and technique. In strict black-and-white, he captures art world luminaries like Gilbert & George, Sam Taylor-Wood, Richard Prince, Juergen Teller, Maurizio Cattelan and Tracey Emin. His work is in various public collections including the National Portrait Gallery. He lives and works in London.