Photography

Go big or go home

What is it about large art pieces, from  photographic series to installations and digital projections that excites me so much? I recently revisited Saatchi Gallery in order to take a second look at some larger works that are exhibited there. I took a lot of photographs in order to take a closer look from home; View them as individual works and also as interactive ones with people being captured in the photos, moving inside the exhibition spaced thus becoming a part of the artwork.

Chantal Joffee – Untitled (Oil on Gesso on Board)IMG_3647

Chantal Joffe is a contemporary artist, who could be described to have a humorous eye for everyday awkwardness as she brings a combination of truth and honesty to the genre of figurative art. Her small, humorous drawings usually depicting women or girls have a beautiful sense of complexity that intrigues my curiosity to learn more about the artists intentions, the messages of each smaller painting and its role to the series. ‘The direct and liquid painting style that Chantal Joffe uses has the effect of filling her subjects with personality. The images possess an extra alarming humour that is highly enjoyable and strangely provoking‘ (saatchigallery.com)

The reason why I chose to photographed the piece using a panoramic effect is because I wanted to have a individual photo of the series, but at the same time have central focus. In this way, you can view and understand the many smaller paintings as a series, but you can also have a more detailed understanding of what is illustrated in each one of them by looking closer at the centre.

Denis Tarasov – Essence Series with Marianne Vitale – Installation Markers.IMG_3654

The image above represents two different series by two different artists. The photographys on the wall is by Denis Tarasov and the sculptures in the middle of the space are by Marianne Vitale. 

Denis Tarasovs ‘Essence’ showcases the strange phenomenon of modern cultures, one that celebrates material wealth in the face of death. In one of his interviews, he explained that the gravestones he includes in his photographs are not unique occurrences, but they exist in a number of large cities across Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other former Soviet countries usually concentrated in one area within a cemetery. The artist focuses on the fact that even though all the gravestones are made in the same way and style, they are still different from each other and that is what made him find them all unique and visually interesting. ‘Each has some peculiarity, some distinguishing feature, something that is for me a kind of punctum‘ – Quote by Denis Tarasovs.

Marianne Vitale uses the concept of the process of deterioration and the act of repurposing discarded materials in her work and more specifically in her current sculptures. Made from reclaimed materials, found in old factories and barns, her new series of sculptures ‘Markers’ is composed of weathered wood headstones devoid of inscriptions or epitaphs. The artist uses a number of different techniques when working on her sculptures (burns, bruises, dents, cuts) and  references the passage o time by virtue of the natural decomposition of her materials (artsy.net)

Terasov’s photography and Vitale’s sculptures have very different messages and intentions behind them but when exhibited together in a room, they work as a larger and more complex installation which is the reason why I photographed them together and not as individual works. Since they both share the concept of death, they complement each other perfectly creating a mysterious and in my opinion uncomfortable atmosphere that transforms any exhibition space.

Eddie Martinez – The Feast (Mixed Media on Canvas)
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Eddie Martinez is a contemporary artist who’s works are well known for being colourful, bold and humorousHis work is a fun, colourful and crudely-rendered assortment of tablescapes with a number of similar abstract figures. Moreover, ‘is at all times evocative of the still lifes and  the portraits that dot the landscape of art history, executed in a manner not only revelatory of their influence but aesthetically on par with something else entirely’ (quote from huffingtonpost.com)

The scale of his art works has continuously been growing making the artist to comment in humour: Go big or go home‘. I loved how big, colourful and bold his painting was, so I tried to become a part of it by being in the photograph. Instead of simply posing next to the work, I decided to use a panoramic effect, and so  as the camera moved from the right to left, I ran in front of the painting trying to incorporate my movement to the photograph. In that way, I compared my size to the works proportions and included a sense of movement to the still shot.

After looking at these larger pieces in detail, I realised that what in my opinion makes them so exciting is that their large scale gives me the opportunity to view them from different angles and create different narratives. Moreover, I realised that large works and installations intrigue my curiosity and inspire me to experiment with photography; play with angles, lighting, effects (panoramic) and even include people and movement inside the frame, which gives the image different meanings and perspectives. Standing next to large scale works in exhibition spaces made me feel ‘small‘ and was intimidating at first, but after a while it just made me feel inspired.

What do you thing about large art works?

Thanks for reading,
Elli

William S. Burroughs Photography

William S. Burroughs is a major American writer and artist of the 20th century. He became very well known as a kind of itinerant travelling American writer. Even though he took thousands of photographs throughout his life he is not really known about his photography work. No one really knows the reasons why he took so many photographs and whether he intended of using them at all in an exhibition like this one. I was very intrigued by that fact, so I decided to visit the Photographers Gallery in order to view his photography. His exhibition features over a 100 works including; vintage photographs, collages and assemblages alongside related ephemera such as postcards, magazines, newspapers, books and advertisements used in Burroughs’ pieces.

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What I loved most about the exhibition was the neat and ‘clean’ presentation and the creativity of the photographs (cutting technique, ink on paper, collage). Starting with presentation, I enjoyed how structured the space was. Every picture was in black and white, had similar black frames  and approximately the same size. Also the way the photographs were placed on the walls, helped enhance their beauty and said something about their meaning. These small details made the exhibition coherent and thus easier to move from one photographic series to the next.

To give an example, the following image shows a series illustrating a car accident taking place in New York. The series demonstrates how photography has the ability to record perceptions and events, counterpointing people, place objects and actions in complex patterns and layers. Every image plays an important role to the concept of the series as a whole, so they all have the same size and are all placed in a very structured way, giving the same importance to every photograph.

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One of the things that is occurring in many of the images in the exhibition is the way the artist is using photography to make a record of artworks in process, then takes his time and transform the artwork and then goes back to his photography and records it again. So what we get in this exhibition is the sense of photography and its relation to time, to things developing, things in the process of becoming a complete artwork. And in some few cases what we see in the exhibition are photographic images that depict artworks that in reality do not exist in their complete form.

Something else that is very interesting and brings me to the second thing I enjoyed was the artistic creativity found in the images. More specifically, I liked how the artist edited the pictures in an artistic and unique way. The following untitled images, are created using collage and also edited with ink and colour on paper. I love the different effect it has on the simple black and white picture, the fact that the image now has a touch of colour but still keeps its vintage style.

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“Burroughs used photography partly as a research tool, but also as a medium of visual experimentation. Processed cheaply and treated as disposable items, many of his photographs bear markings and scratches, and most are not titled or dated. The fragmented nature of his photographic work resists a thematic or chronological layout and is reflective of his nomadic lifestyle and state of mind.” (Notes from the exhibition space)

Burroughs tends to use the cutting technique in newspapers, where he cuts randomly the letters of texts and again randomly puts them back together by sticking the letters in different part of the text, making it unreadable.  In his photography, he is pushing this technique further by cutting up photographs and also texts and images from different media such as newspapers laced them out together, takes a photograph and that process is done over and  over again until he ends up with the tiniest bit of fragment  which returns in as a piece of a bigger  photograph(2)-Press-Image-l-William-Burroughs_Ian-Sommerville-Infinity-Paris-(Beat-Hotel)-1962--Estate-of-William-S

I really like the previous artwork shown and its incredible detail. I like the thought process behind it, and the way it has been constructed. I find its complexity very unique and for me that is what makes it so beautiful. Taking a closer look, you can see the repetition of the imagery , the mirror effect created and even though it may look abstract but it is actually  organised and structured.

Burroughs works in a unique way, as he arranges and assembles photographs and objects to conceive new connections and meanings. In  his  complex collages his assemblies are photographed and printed, then reassembled and photographed again and again, creating a near-infinity of images. These pieces functioned as a form of time travel, where the camera was used to literally cut pieces from the continuum to then be repositioned and disseminated.

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What I really noticed and enjoyed about the two images above is their simplicity. Both of them are smaller sized images in larger frames. They do not have to be larger, they have an important effect even in a smaller size. Moreover, I really appreciate when something is not very big because it makes you have to move closer to the artwork, take your time and search for the details. Only in that way, you get the chance to take a second look, find the hidden details and messages yourself and get a better sense of what the artist meant to say through his work.

“This is not an exhibition, which closes down and defines what Burroughs’s photography is but actually opens it up and hopefully invites people to reconsider Burroughs’s work in light of these images and to start really digging still more thoroughly into his artworks which are related, but not part of his written work. People will find their own narratives, their own stories and interpretations which are as valid as any other ” Patricia Allmer (Exhibition curator)

I personally believe that every artist’s aim is to get the attention of a wide audience, and make them not only view but also think about his work. Observe his works details, dig deeper into the hidden meanings and messages they might have and even create their own story and own truth. Did you manage to create your own narrative?

Thank you for reading,

Elli

Sweet Escape

There is something about nature that in my mind is highly connected with art. I am not the kind of person that believes that ‘everything around us is art’ or that whatever we see and touch could be considered a form of art, but there are places in the world that I find very artistic.

I have a summer house in Greece and more specifically in Mani, a village that has amazing beaches on the one side, and beautiful high mountains on the other. I go to Mani every summer since I was born but I have truly understood its beauty the last couple of years. Through photography, I have managed to see the beauty in a place that I considered to be ordinary when I was younger. For the first time that I can remember, I visited my summer house in the winter. My father suggested that it would be a sweet escape for the weekend and that I would not regret going.

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I took my dad’s advice and decided to leave my house in the city of Athens and go for a weekend to my summer house in Mani. It was raining the entire first day and I was hoping that I would wake up to a clear sky the next morning, and so did I. The village was empty, so the beaches, but the view from my house was exactly the way it is during summer time, even though it was almost January. The sky was clear and blue and everything was very peaceful. I decided to take pictures of the day and then see how the sky and the sea change and adapt based on the suns position.

I was amazed by the beauty that can be created just from the sun. As the day was passing, the sea and the sky would change in the most beautiful ways. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I am sure that I have never seen such beautiful sun set in my life. The colours were unreal and all of the pictures have not been edited at all.

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After a while, when it got too dark to be outside, I went inside the house and transferred the photographs to my computer, in order to see them better. Firstly, I could not believe that my iPhone could take such good quality photographs, and I could not believe that in all these years, this was the first time I truly saw the beauty of my summer house’s view. I looked at the photos over and over again, thinking that they look like the photos you find on the internet when you google ‘amazing photos’ or like the screen-savers a new computer has saved when first bought.

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What I truly find interesting about these images, is how amazing a simple photograph could be. I only needed my iPhone 5 in order to take these shots. The rest was all pure nature. I did not have to create a set, get props or work on the background. No light was needed, no flash, or anything. All of the colours and shadows were ‘real’. Real in the sense that they were not edited and not set up. Everything was there just for a second, and every photograph was different from the previous one, because of the natural wind that simply moved the clouds, and the sun that slowly changed position. These photographs are unique and one of a kind, and even if I go there at the same spot, at the same time, nothing will be the same. And in my opinion, that is the art of nature. 

Ps: To view the images in a larger size, simply click on them