In his essay on ‘INHABITED DESERTS’ Kirill Petrin writes:
“Most people in the Western world are indifferent to deserts. Deserts are “away”. They are “elsewhere”. They are thousands of miles away and the definition of “empty”, and their associations rarely go beyond “arid, dead, mystic, frightening, mysterious, flat, hot, cold, beautiful, ugly, dangerous”.
John R. Pepper’s deserts are not ultimately the result of travel photography. His photographs, paradoxically, don’t take you to the actual places where they are shot.
They take you elsewhere, to a new place for your mind and imagination to inhabit.
Matisse once said his art mission was to provide a mental chair for a working- man.
Pepper’s photographs, instead of entertaining the viewer, offer a chance to get teleported into these mystical places, to roam the rocky plains, to meditate, to bury in there the stress and burnout of urban life in order to come back with new ideas, newly found calm, or just a fresh outlook on life. These photographs intend to be seductive. Fields of rhyming shades and the rhythm of lines appear so enticing that one may wonder if the images were created by an artist, rather than captured by a camera. It is at this juncture that I started seeing how the camera in Pepper’s hands becomes a brush or chisel with which he blurs the lines between capturing
something already made, and creating something which has never existed. Who said that deserts are uninhabited? Pepper’s work populates them with our thoughts, our dreams. And any ideas they give birth to, where they entangle, give rise to something new and exciting.”
Kirill Petrin, London 2017