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CRITIC'S CHOICE

REVIEW

For photographers, the city has long been a source of details that register as semi-abstractions - studies in colour, geometry and texture. Peeling plaster that reveals the letters of an old advert; patches of new paint on an otherwise worn wall; a taut array of pipes and cables like the armature of a Mondrian. Such images are almost a cliché but, with the right eye and technique, they can be arresting - as veteran Danish photographer Keld Helmer-Petersen proves in his exhibition at Rocket, Tea Building, London E1, until 5 February.

Helmer-Petersen made his name with a remarkable book, 122 Colour Photographs, published in 1948. It's almost impossible to find now, but there's a copy on show at the gallery. Recognisably a product of the same sensibility, his new photos - mounted on aluminium proud of the wall - have quite an impact (see picture). They're well reproduced in a tiny book, Danish Beauty (£6), from Edition Bløndal, whose other publications include Richard Weston's fine monograph on Jørn Utzon and the continuing series of Utzon Logbooks.

And it's Utzon who provides the introduction to Frameworks: Photographs 1950-1990 (£35) - an impressive survey of Helmer-Petersen's work, featuring Utzon's Fredensborg housing. 'His pictures taught me a great deal about light', says Utzon, who also praises Helmer-Petersen's 'splendid spatial imagination' and ability to present a building 'without cosmetics'. The book includes images of both the natural and the man-made world, mostly in black-and-white, and often they take on a graphic quality, as Helmer-Petersen turns the underside of a crane into a stark silhouette and a strand of seaweed into a character from an unknown alphabet. Frameworks is almost out of print, but copies are available from the gallery (www. rocketgallery. com).

Both book and exhibition mark a long career. By contrast, the Architecture Foundation's 'Winter Nights' lecture series at BDP, London EC1, features practices just making a name for themselves - DRDH Architects on 18 January, Amin Taha Architects on 25 January and Block Architecture on 1 February (www. architecturefoundation. org. uk).

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