Works
Overview

There’s a perverse attraction to abandoned sites and tumbledown buildings that has long made them a favorite subject for artists. From the melancholic vistas of eighteenth-century printmaker Giovanni Piranesi to the haunting non-buildings of contemporary sculptor Rachel Whiteread, ruins have frequently appeared as allegories for human instability, loss, and the inexorable passage of time. It doesn’t hurt that the subject also tends to offer up unexpected colors and textures, as the operation of damage and decay reveals aspects of their makeup that are ordinarily hidden from view.

 

In the photographs of Lee Saloutos, the visual and symbolic power of such places is further enhanced by the artist’s ability to foreground striking contrasts between the quality of light within a given space and what we know of its history. Saloutos’s shots of abandoned prisons, for example, show how in these desolate sites, the darkest of human stories are combined with formal beauty. They also detail the tendency of the earth to reclaim its territory. Bringing a photojournalist’s approach to bear on such projects—he undertakes lengthy shoots requiring difficult access—Saloutos builds an ongoing, open-ended narrative around architecture, society, and the natural world.

 

In other work, Saloutos adopts a tighter focus, directing his attention at surfaces—most often artificial ones—in luscious close-up shots that keep their subjects sources and contexts under wraps. In these photographs’ concentration on vivid color, rich texture, and occasional fragments of text, there are hints of modernist abstract painting; there are echoes too of projects like the Boyle Family’s “Journey to the Surface of the Earth” and great photographic series such as Brassaï’s mid-century “Graffiti.” In thus varying his perspective, Saloutos conjures an affecting composite portrait of the American nation in context, and a panorama of a world that is always interlinked in time and space.

 

Michael Wilson 

Biography

Drawing on 35 years of experience to produce lush, detailed photographic prints, Lee Saloutos specializes in color landscape and architectural imagery, also focusing on the textured surfaces that result from the gradual weathering of man-made structures. He claims no political or conceptual agenda, but commits himself to immersion in locations and subjects over the course of dedicated weeks-long shoots, resulting in bodies of work that often have a documentary or investigative quality, and which resonate in particular with the decline of certain aspects of American industry and culture.

In 1977, having spent three years in the Fine Arts program at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Saloutos graduated with a BS in electrical engineering but continued to take photographs while working professionally as an engineer. He has always favored traditional photographic film and performed his own scanning and printing. In spite of his scientific background, Saloutos has little interest in photographic technology for its own sake and looks to painters as much as to other photographers for inspiration.  

 

Saloutos has been the subject of solo exhibitions at galleries, museums, and other venues including Lazarro Signature Gallery (2001); Artspace Gallery, Richmond, VA (2003 and 2007); Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, VA (2010 and 2014); Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, WY (2012); Saint Mary's College Museum of Art, Moraga, CA (2013); and the Public Policy Institute of California, San Francisco, CA (2018). His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions at venues including Artspace Gallery, Page Bond Gallery, and 1212 Gallery (all Richmond, VA); Louisville Center for the Arts, Louisville, CO; Martin Museum of Art, Waco, TX; Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA; Spiva Center for the Arts, Joplin, MO; and Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, KS.

Saloutos's work is included in numerous private, public, and corporate collections including those of the Department of State, Washington, D. C.; Churchill Art Center, Fallon, NV; and Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, WY; as well as in several based in Richmond, VA, including the Federal Reserve Bank, American Infrastructure, Hourigan Construction, and Capitol One. Saloutos is also the winner of several awards and competitions including second place in the Natioanl Juried Photography Exhibition at 1212 Gallery, Richmond, VA; first place in the architecture category at the 5th Annual Pollux Awards, WPGA, York, UK (2014); and silver in architecture and industrial at the Moscow International Foto Awards (2019). His work has been published and written about in journals including B&W + ColorThe Photo ReviewSHOTSeXel, and Lenscratch.

Lee Saloutos is represented by Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, VA.

Exhibitions
Bibliography

2019     JRNL, Issue 3, 2019, Guest Editor Joanna Milter, Director of Photography, The New Yorker

2016     Edge of Humanity, Nov 2016, “America's Abandoned Prisons”

2015     The Photo Review, Vol 31, No. 1, 2015, Competition Issue

2014     Politico (online magazine), (prisons imagery, photo essay on death penalty)

2014     prisonphotography.org, (prisons portfolio and interview)

2014     Photo+, (Korean Photography Magazine) (prisons portfolio and interview)

2014     Lenscratch, an online photography journal (prisons portfolio)

2014     CLOG, an architecture journal, special issue on prisons.  CLOG, New York, NY

2014     eXel Magazine, Jan/Feb 2014, Inaugural Issue (two pages)

2013     Scapes Spaces (exhibit catalog), Churchill Arts Council, Fallon, NV

2013     Portfolio Showcase Volume 6, Center for Fine Art Photography, Ft Collins, CO 

2012     SHOTS Magazine, Dec 2012, Annual Portfolio Issue

2012     The Photo Review, Dec 2012, Competition Issue

2011     B&W + Color Magazine, October 2011, Special Color Issue

2010     Photo Center Northwest Annual Publication, Seattle, WA

2009     Best in Photography, Photographer's Forum Magazine, Santa Barbara, CA