Tag Archives: photographer

Photographing the Photographic Image: Anne Collier

Anne Collier is an unusual type of photographer in the sense that she takes photographs of existing photographs. Largely, of famous women role models, Marilyn Monroe, of course, amongst a few lesser known feminine starlets of the past. Yet it’s not as straight forward or as unimaginative as it sounds. Collier holds her images quite literally at arms length, working with not just the image itself but with the background on which it appears: a frame, magazine, book, poster, a blank wall or textured surface. It has a distancing effect and totally readjusts our perspectives of well known work (reminiscent of Fiona Banner’s curated exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery here in London). A lot of her work, unsurprisingly, focuses on the “gaze”, forcing the viewer to reassess the way we view not just images but advertisements and people themselves. This naturally plays into the interesting and ever going debates surrounding female objectification and sexualisation. Taken out of their commercial context, what do these images mean and how should we view them?

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Enfant Terrible: Ed van der Elsken

Ed van der Elsken isn’t a name you come across often in the mainstream world of photography. Partly because he steered clear of commercial work and partly because of his reputation as the ‘enfant terrible’ (loosely translated as the troublesome child). Like a lot of great artists, he refused to play by the rules, photograph nice people and pretty landscapes, instead he aimed to photograph all aspects of reality – the best and the worst of human nature.

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“I report on young, rebellious scum with pleasure … I rejoice in everything. Love. Courage. Beauty. Also blood, sweat and tears.”

Born in Amsterdam, der Elsken started off his career with the intention of becoming a sculptor before moving to Paris and discovering ‘la bohemes’ of Saint-Germain-de-Prés who would become the focus of his photography. Though much of his work purports to be documentary, it remains closely intertwined with the theatrical and surreal reflecting on the drug hazed bohemian society in which he lived. That said, the pictures are clearly rooted in the everyday rather than the transcendent, recording ‘characters’ in their intimate daily routines of drinking coffee, dozing and daydreaming. These are people who really existed despite polite society’s attempts to believe otherwise…

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der Elken also made a pretty hypnagogic film, Death in the Port Jackson Hotel, which features the star of the artist’s most famous photography series, Love on the Left Bank, Vali Myers, and is worth a watch if you can handle drawn out interviews with doe eyed hippies and bizarre sequences of toads mating.

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Alice Rainis: Ongoing Projects

London/Paris based photographer Alice Rainis has a way of finding beauty in the everyday – it’s an enviable talent and often makes her pieces very poignant. She’s got a number of long term projects which she adds to every now and then, such as the series of Polaroid Portraits, Music Artists Off Stage or Late Nights Early Mornings (well worth flicking through), but the most recent of these and the most interesting is XXI Century which features portraits of the creative or inspiring people who have crossed her path. She adds a new image every two weeks with a one line blurb beneath telling you who’s who and what’s what. 

 Check out her full portfolio on her website: http://www.alicerainis.com/. She’s a cool kid.

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Life without colour: Benoit Courti

Earlier today I stumbled across a collection of classic black and white pictures that had been ‘colourized’ and I’m not entirely sure I liked them. Though the image itself always remained the same the addition of colour seemed almost inappropriate.  I’m not under the illusion that in the past, the world was actually colourless, it’s just that colour demystifies the scenes. And isn’t mystery the very thing that makes the past so exciting? Where would our imaginations be without a little mystery and intrigue?

I think that’s why I love Benoit Courti’s black and white photography so much. It re-imagines a colourless world that is both sharply defined and incredibly mysterious. It highlights the simple beauty of shape and light and opens up innumerable questions…

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Check out Benoit Courti’s website for his full portfolio. His colour photographs are also incredibly beautiful: http://benoitcourti.4ormat.com/

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Zack Seckler’s Aerial Abstracts

After spending a good 2 hours this afternoon watching a slideshow of photographs from my mother and her partner’s trip to Africa, you’d imagine I’d had my fill of landscapes, but then I came across Zack Seckler.

Flicking through Seckler’s online portfolio I have to admit is a bit disappointing; some of the photos are impressive, others amusing, but a lot are, I hate to say it, just a bit too “American”. When I say “American”, I’m not taking a swipe at the nation’s identity, what I mean is it’s all a bit too commercial and smiley for my liking. Too staged, too bright, too happy… Seckler’s Aerial Abstracts, on the other hand, are utterly entrancing. The landscapes are simultaneously warped and enhanced from a height to form beautiful, vibrant patterns. Looking at his photographs is like flying over exotic, magical lands – it’s an incredibly humbling and awe inspiring experience. The vastness of the landscapes is intensified by the absence of human life and the scale of the few animals dotted across the frame…

Seckler’s at his best when people are left out of it, but then again maybe landscapes are too.

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To see the full series head over to Seckler’s website: http://www.zackseckler.com/about

 

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Fish and Cocks: Ernest Goh

Photographer, Ernest Goh has a great sense of humour. His series of animal portraits, brilliantly named ‘The Fish Book’ and ‘Cocks’, capture the titled animals in very humanistic and hilarious poses against stark, bare backgrounds, making it all seem rather grand…

I’ve always thought chickens and fish were rather odd looking creatures, there’s something unsettling about the way they look at you, as if they’re plotting something…

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Goh’s work just confirms my suspicions.

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Check out Goh’s website to see some of his more serious stuff, it’s not all about fish and cocks: http://www.ernestgoh.com/

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London Art Fair Discovery 2: Rosa Basurto

Probably the most impressive and interesting thing about Rosa Basurto is that she’s a self-taught photographer. That may not seem like much on paper but when you look at her work it’s really quite awe inspiring. I can’t pretend to know a huge amount about the technicalities of photography (most of my holiday snaps turn out blurry), but I like to think I can recognise the good from the bad, the great from the average and in my books, Basurto’s work definitely falls into the category of ‘the great’. Her photographs re-imagine real landscapes and scenarios in mysterious, intriguing and even at times, amusing ways. It’s playful but also seems sort of poetic and serious at the same time. I can’t help but feel, for example, that her image of a sky full of birds behind giant, looming red poppies has some very poignant significance…

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‘Habitat’ and ‘Mirando al cielo’ are amongst my favourite series of Basurto’s work but all of it is brilliant in it’s own way. Head over to her website to see fully appreciate her talent and versatility: http://www.rosabasurto.com/

Also watch this moving video of Basurto’s photography. It’s very cool indeed:

 

 

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London Art Fair Discovery 1: Karine Laval

I’ve only just returned to the list of names I jotted down at London Art Fair back in January (rediscovery is so exciting) and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing the best of the bunch on here. First up is New York based photographer, Karine Laval. I’ve always been fascinated by images of the human body and water so it’s no surprise that Laval’s series of poolside photographs grabbed my attention. Her images of bodies submerged under water are utterly compelling in their focus on the natural process of distortion and intense colour.

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They make a vibrant contrast to much of Laval’s other work which heavily utilises light to create sunlight saturated images that are bare by comparison. This, however, is no criticism. There’s something very intriguing about the whiteness of her island images, for example, where the sand and sky are barely separated by a thin strip of blue sea and seem to go on forever… A landscape of dreams. At least that’s what it looks like to me – it’s hard to imagine such brightness with wind and rain slapping against your window.

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View Laval’s full portfolio here: http://www.karinelaval.com/. It’s also well worth checking out her videos via  vimeo. There’s a few very hypnotic and brilliant shorts including this one of a professional dancer performing underwater:

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Conceptual Photography by Juliana Manara

Brazilian artist and photographer, Juliana Manara’s conceptual series ‘MiniB’ takes you into the surreal world of imagination; a world where you can paint a zebra, walk along a telephone wire and get your head stuck in a cloud, literally. Whilst all these scenarios would seem utterly ridiculous and let’s be honest, probably drug induced if they were paintings or illustrations, they seem more plausible in the black and white photographic medium and it takes a minute or two to register that anything peculiar is going on.

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Yes that is a shark in a goldfish bowl and yes, that young man does look ready to dive in at any minute. Well, at least he’s taking a float ring with him. Safety first.

In the words of Manara herself: ‘Each work brings ideas of feelings, facts or attitudes. It introduces multiple meanings with the universality of landscapes, sometimes surreal environments and always a good relationship between human and other animals or the needy relation between humans and material things. MiniB invites us to dialogue about our existence and also can claim to some absurdities of the human conditions.’

286289-11461814-7What I really love about the series though, is the way it pokes fun at human existence. Enough of that existential angst. Just laugh.

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Prints of the series are available, for a pretty penny, via the Saatchi Gallery: http://www.saatchionline.com/julianamanara

And you can find more out about Juliana Manara on her website: http://www.julianamanara.com/

 

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Drinking tea with Hannah Adamaszek

‘I really like native Indians,’ Hannah Adamaszek smiles when I ask where her inspiration comes from. She sits opposite me, nestled into the sofa in her living room in West Sussex. It’s not obviously the home of an artist. For one thing there’s a lot less mess than I expected. In fact, it’s meticulously clean, but the paintings on the wall of Pocahontas like figures with colourful hair and strong eyes are somewhat of a give away.

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‘Yes I guess the girl in my paintings does look a bit like Pocahontas,’ Hannah agrees. ‘I normally source photos online and merge maybe two or three faces together to make one person. Somehow, they all end up looking fairly similar. I’d love to do a photo shoot with a model at some point though.’ It’s not hard to guess what Hannah’s favourite film was a child! ‘I’m also really into native fashion. I take bits of inspiration from Spell Designs (http://www.spelldesigns.com/) who make clothes and jewellery and also from the Native Americans themselves’.

Interestingly, however, it seems to only be Native American women that fascinate Hannah. ‘I prefer to use women in my paintings. I have done men in the past, but it’s more fun painting a woman and I’m a woman so I find I can connect with the figure more’.

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It’s also largely Hannah’s use of women that makes her work as, at least partially, a street artist so unique. To a predominantly male dominated world, her work brings femininity and beauty without passivity. Though the colours she uses are subdued (‘I like to listen to calm music when I paint’), her women are expressively bold and powerful.

‘My work has changed a lot since Uni.’ Hannah trained at Bournemouth Arts Institute where she mainly focused on photography.  ‘ Not that I was very good at it!’ She adds honestly. ‘ I was really interested in documentaries. I worked with the homeless for a bit and that kind of thing. Then when I finished uni I got an office job, which lasted about 6 months before I decided it wasn’t for me and went travelling instead.’

It took a while for her to actually start painting again and it wasn’t until she got back from ski seasons in Austria and Switzerland that she picked up a paintbrush – and a spray can. ‘I tried playing around with a few stencils to see what it was like and found that I really enjoyed using spray paint so I started to incorporate that into my work as well. It took quite a long time to get it how I wanted though!’

The result is – especially up close – very impressive; a unique blend of the precision and neatness of fine art with the gritty, spontaneity of street art – not unlike the work of current artist, Conor Harrington (who incidentally Hannah’s a big fan of). Harrington generally works on huge canvases or paints directly onto street walls.‘The only work I’ve done actually on the street is during live painting sessions where you’re given some boards to paint on’, says Hannah. ‘I’ve got one up in London at the moment, which has been placed on the side of a building. It’s such an amazing feeling to see your work out in public’.

Hannah’s also hugely admiring of abstract artist, Kristin Gaudio Endsley, who she sometimes collaborates with. ‘We normally meet up in Kristin’s studio in London and share ideas – she’s got a really great studio where we can work together.’ Hannah currently paints in her spare room, where disastrously she spills a pot of acrylic when showing me the sheet she uses to cover the floor – one of the hazards of being an artist. ‘I usually start by painting the figure and Kristin will pick the colours and paint around it. I really struggle with background and colour – so she really helped me out with that.’

Looking at Hannah’s paintings it’s hard to imagine she struggles with anything. They seem so effortless and relaxed. I wonder how long it takes to finish a painting on average? ‘It depends. The longest part of the process is deciding what to paint. I’m not the world’s best decision maker, but once I’ve started it can take 3 or 4 days maybe.’

With a show this month and her first solo show in September (‘which I can’t believe I’m doing!’), Hannah has lots of painting and planning to do, but she’s still looking forward to the future.‘I’d like to do some work abroad, do the stroke art fair in Munich and perhaps see what’s in the US as well.’

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She seems to be an artist whose not only comfortable working with lots of mediums, but also with working in different environments and with different people. It is perhaps her flexibility (alongside her talent – of course) that has opened so many doors. When I ask her which was the most exciting project she’s done, she can’t choose: ‘I really enjoyed doing the Brandalism project, working with about 25 other artists. We were each given a brief and had to create something for a sort of anti-advertising campaign. The guys running the project hijacked billboards across the UK and pasted up our anti-adverts across the top of them. It was nice to have a bit of focus and do something different to my usual work.’

The project certainly caused quite a stir with the press (described by Dr. D in 2012 as ‘taking the piss with a point’) and was covered by the Independent.

I ask Hannah how she feels about the rise of social media as an artist. ‘I’ve only really got into social media over the last 6months to year. It takes a long time to understand, but there’s huge potential to use it as an artist to find new customers, new events etc.’

As an advocate of the ‘shop local’ concept, Hannah’s especially a fan of blogs, which work closely with local artists and bring more attention to art in general. ‘Places like Ikea sell prints for the same amount as an artist might sell an original limited edition print and I don’t think people perhaps realize that they can get something from a local London artist (if they live in London) for a similar sort of price’. At the very least it prevents your sitting room from looking like an Ikea catalogue. Who says individuality is dead?

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This interview took place in Hannah’s home on 25th July 2013.

All photographs were taken by the wonderful Corin Brown: www.corinashleighbrown.co.uk

Hannah’s solo exhibition runs from 5th-21st September at the Curious Duke Gallery.

You can buy Hannah’s paintings via her website: http://hannahchloe.com/

Read more about the Brandalism movement here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/brandalism-street-artists-hijack-billboards-for-subvertising-campaign-7953151.html

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