Since the 1990s, Todd Hido has been known for his distinctive approach to photography, crafting narratives with loose suburban scenes, desolate landscapes, and stylised portraits. Capturing images from the drivers seat through a windshield, Hido’s pictorialist sensibilities transform natural elements of condensation, dirt, and grit into painterly abstractions akin to watercolour. He masterfully blurs the lines between painting and photography, creating a body of work that unfolds gradually, delivering a profound sense of cinematic gravitas and a dreamy, almost surreal quality. In his latest series, The End Sends Advance Warning, Hido’slens ventures beyond the usual setting of American Suburbia and looks for inspiration in the rugged terrain of the Hawaiian Islands, the shores of the Bering Sea, and the Nordic Fjords above the Arctic Circle.
What is the advanced warning that the artist poses? The answer to this question is different from what it mightseem. The cover image of Hido’s recent publication, The End Sends Advance Warning, depicts a landscape rendered in shades of black, blue, and green. The composition is divided into two – scattered water puddles reflect the twilight as a road emerges in the center of the frame. A pair of headlights cuts through the murky atmosphere and heads directly towards the viewer, creating a sense of imminent danger. However, one must read between the lines that cannot be seen on the muddy road. Unlike the uninhabited, desolate landscapes with only traces of human existence in Hido’s Bright Black World and Roaming series, The End SendsAdvance Warning, through the distant brightness of a car headlight, the warmth of a porchlight, and the hint of sunlight through heavy clouds conveys a sense of hope. In the darkness of the landscape, the light serves as a beacon, helping the viewers find their way while reminding us that we are not alone.
Todd Hido states: [This series] is far from a paean to despair. Instead, it argues that it is in the darkest times that we must redouble our efforts to note the small and quiet moments of beauty in any form and to approach the changes in progress with as much hope and grace as possible.
Roadside photography, a genre explored extensively since the 1950s, counts notable works by Robert Frank, William Eggleston, and Lee Friedlander, whose work can be characterized as a collective focus on encapsulating the essence of “America.” Todd Hido, rather than immersing himself in the environment, maintains his vantage point from within his vehicle. Opting for this limited visual perspective, he injects an element of enigma, detachment, and yearning into his work. The resulting image is one of unattainable desire. Both Hido and his viewers are forever ensnared on the opposite side of the car windshield, a threshold they can never quite traverse.
Hido's illustrious career spans over a dozen published books, showcasing his artistic prowess and creativity. The acclaimed monographs House Hunting (2001) and Excerpts from Silver Meadows (2013) have garnered critical acclaim and awards. Additionally, he has introduced innovative B-Sides Box Sets, serving as complementary pieces to his literary endeavours. His Aperture publications include notable titles such as Todd Hido on Landscapes, Interiors, the Nude (2014), Intimate Distance: Twenty-Five Years of Photographs (2016), and Bright Black World (2018). His latest publication, The End Sends Advance Warning (2023), was released alongside this exhibition.