Tom Leighton's Photomontages, Gallery 27, Cork Street, London

Joe Robinson
Saturday 22 October 2011 22:45

There are worlds that exist outside our planetary system. We may never see them... unless they see us first. And there are other exotic constructions that are the creations of those gifted minds who write sci-fi novels. The photomontages of one young British photographer, Tom Leighton, fall into the latter set.

Leighton likes to do "the old switcheroo" with otherwise permanent, well-known features of our cityscapes and meticulously blend them into deconstructed metropolitan vistas. It momentarily disarms you. And you will scuttle for what is termed "confirmation bias" to look for the "joins" in this crazy, made-up world. And you will not find them. Therein lies the genius of Leighton's follies, these vignettes of virtual spaces.

Welcome to the world of the globetrotting master printmaker who, to all intents and purposes, has swallowed a mind-altering substance and used its kaleidoscopic qualities to project new spaces filled with places he has "captured" on camera.

There is no visual precedent for what you encounter in Leighton's montages. In Venice 2 your teeth are on edge as you witness Piazza San Marco; the church of Notre Dame; Sacré Coeur; Monmartre; Times Square; a carousel from Le Louvre; the Flatiron building from Manhattan; a giant Shanghai advertising hoarding; gargoyles from Notre Dame and a dusting of Dubai.

There are three things that matter in Leighton's work: the imaginative power; the sheer technical wizardry; and the delightful artistry. One scene from Venice 3 shows a townscape where symmetry and strange beauty pucker the eye; but top-frame are paragliders circling down as if descending from the latest adventure holiday where the required arrival could be nothing less than spectacular. Heavenly.

Foundation Starke, Berlin: tomorrow to 14 November (

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