Paul Graham focuses his practice on documenting urban scenes and the daily social interactions that take place in structurally busy and crossroads locations, where people intersect.

Graham approaches photography with an intimate and empathic approach. His images often capture social dynamics and moments of everyday life that may seem mundane or superficial at first glance, but reveal the subject humanity, who becomes an almost involuntary protagonist of a portrait. Through his distant yet attentive gaze, the artist manages to draw attention to issues, more or less significant, concerning sometimes the individual and sometimes the collectivity, prompting the viewer to reflect on the complexity of life and society.

Untitled is part of a photographic series that metaphorically and physically place the human being at the center of attention. Each image features a single subject: this figure, its life, and its essence become the artwork focus, demanding the viewer’s attention. According to the artist, the point is not to seek for a perfect frame, ideal lighting or situations – although his works rest on an extremely rigorous composition – what truly matters is the person and its story.

This photograph could easily be framed as a portrait: a female figure bathed in sunshine is depicted in profile while standing on a sidewalk, hands intertwined, and legs crossed. However, its purpose goes beyond the superficial representation of the protagonist. Actually, what is portrayed is the moment she is experiencing. Her posture suggests that she is maybe waiting for someone or something; her dress and high-heeled shoes may hint at an upcoming appointment; the shadows inclination on the asphalt reveals that the sun is setting, placing the scene in a specific timeframe, yet leaving many possibilities and answers open.

Graham’s work is constantly in balance between artistic and documentary practice, subtly but effectively showing how the two can coincide.


Paul Graham
Untitled, Milano, 1998
Cibachrome print on paper, 40 x 50 cm
© Paul Graham – Città metropolitana di Milano / Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea, Milano-Cinisello Balsamo
The artwork is part of the group exhibition “L’Italia è un desiderio. Fotografie, paesaggi e visioni 1842 – 2022. Le Collezioni Alinari e Mufoco”.
Scuderie del Quirinale, via XXIV Maggio 16, Roma
From July 1st to September 3rd
Curated by Matteo Balduzzi (Mufoco) and Rita Scartoni (Fondazione Alinari)