PAINTING WITH LIGHT
In November last year I went to Central St Martins in London to attend the programme PHOTOGRAPHY, ART AND ARCHITECTURE with Diego Ferrari. The course was aiming to encourage an innovative approach to the relationship between architecture and photography, examining the distinctions between documentary and artistic approaches.
We were encouraged to study and select the work of well-known modern photographers in architecture and use this as a launch pad for our own explorations: I investigated Hiroshi Sugimoto (born Tokyo 1948). I was attracted by his photographs of the sea and his well known series of cinema interiors that freeze time; here is a photographer who seeks to slow down the art of ‘looking’. We can take in his work with one look, blink and see the image in our minds.
Sugimoto’s work is atmospheric and weightless. Almost every image plays with tone rather than line with a powerful use of monochrome. Even solid masses within his images appear to float in front of the viewer.
Since my time at Central St Martins I have taken images when travelling from the Islamic in Istanbul to post-modern architecture in Tokyo. The common thread is using light to create a loose impression of buildings and interiors and pushing this further through drawing and ‘etching’ into photo-prints.
The narratives created blend photography and fine art, base images etched over with charcoal and chalk.
The results are works that often have an ethereal feel, the literal lightness of the printing and drawing work creates an end result that is light. Sometimes the effect of this new approach is to draw a veil over the subject and create a mystical effect, there is something held back from the viewer, something that would be there in a documentary photograph but absent when the fine art dimension is added.
The means for my new approach begins with a digital camera to capture the image, when taking the shot the camera is moved vigorously, this removes the ‘control’ over the photographic result. The images are surprising, often demanding trial and error to get a base-line image on which to work. What makes a good shot? The answer is to keep just enough context, some reality without the detail that brings complexity.
A selected image is then printed on an inkjet printer set to ‘draft’ - minimising the amount of ink on the watercolour paper used in my work. The final stage is working extensively across the print with charcoal, chalks and pastels, putting down marks and then ‘knocking back’ the tones where they are too dominant for the image. This working method feels like one is etching into the picture.
On the later images I have added figures into original shot where the scene was without people, feeling that the work is improved by these additions without trading away the sometimes unearthly feel to the picture.
As a painter I explored how photography plus the adding marks, incorporating a painterly approach could enable me to move into a new territory and new direction position. With this new work the idea was to see if it is possible for me to enable the viewer to look longer and be persuaded to add their own feelings to these new pictures.
The result I have labelled ‘Painting with Light’.