From 18th January’s lecture.
Pyke’s early work was sold to magazines and the music press, and exhibited from 1982. It helped to define the emergent visual signature of the iconic 1980s magazine, The Face. His first cover subject was John Lydon, and Pyke’s predilection for distinctive, graphically adventurous portraiture was immediately evident. He sought to develop his style by joining the Film Centre Stream course at the London College of Printing in 1982, though he was an unconventional student, working as much on his own projects as college assignments. His independent mind attracted the film director Peter Greenaway for whom Pyke created photographic works used in his films, stills and the poster shots for A Zed and Two Noughts, The Belly of an Architect, Drowning by Numbers and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. More recently his work featured prominently in Mike Nichols’ movie Closer.
It was during an early project on film directors that Pyke established his trademark portrait style, chancing on the little close-up lenses, that when placed on his Rolleiflex camera, allowed him to make incisive, direct images within the square 6x6cm negative. The first picture made in this way, of the film director Sam Fuller in 1983, was taken the same afternoon as Pyke found the Rolleinars in an Edinburgh camera shop.
Steve Pyke’s work to me is amazing. When I look at his portraits I get drawn into the eyes of the people in them, like they have a secret that I wont know unless I move closer. He seems to be able to get even celebrities to look vulnerable in the eye of the camera. I really like this quality to his work, and I want to be able to get close to the people I am photographing without them posing for the camera, just like how Pyke has got his subjects to do the same.