Across all of the photo series featured in Nick Waplington’s new monograph, Comprehensive, readers can witness the artist’s unflinching gaze, seeking out the truth of the subject regardless of how shrouded it may be in mess, mayhem or danger.
Comprehensive is the 21st book by the British artist and photographer and his most expansive to date. Spanning more than 400 pages, it reveals the many themes and mediums that Waplington has covered in his 40-year career.
Beginning with Living Room, an iconic photo series that explores domesticity and familial connection in Nottingham, England in the late 80s, the book then traverses the broad landscape that makes up Waplington’s artistic output over the last four decades.
Included are other projects from the artist’s photographic work, such as Surf Riot (1986), in which Waplington captured the violent chaos that ensued during a surfing championship in Huntington Beach, California, and New York City Clubs, which saw Waplington document the hedonistic nightlife of the city’s most renowned clubbing venues in the 1990s.
There are also examples of his zines and sketchbooks, which form a part of his daily art practice and contain many of his hand-drawn and painted works. Waplington’s illustrations and paintings show his strong sense of form and colour as he moves between abstract compositions and figurative drawings.
Taken together, the monograph showcases the variety of Waplington’s output told through many different expressions. “Each gives a sense of permanent creativity, but also a relentless restlessness, a drive to get ideas down quickly for later reflection and reuse, as well, importantly, allowing Waplington to circulate, share and discuss images and ideas directly with his audience,” writes Simon Baker, the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, in the book’s introduction.
Encompassing a broad range of mediums, Waplington’s work, as seen in this publication, is diverse and ever-changing, and yet, what unites all of it, is an endless curiosity.
As Baker later writes, the artist is always “deeply committed”, and “as serious about family life as politics or art, or music and the social cultures around it, but always as both witness and participant”.
Nick Waplington: Comprehensive is published by Phaidon; phaidon.com