All posts filed under: Fine Art

Breathe copy

How photography is just like photosynthesis

The photography of Alice Cazenave, as much a scientist as an artist, is intriguing, her methods of construction ambiguous. In her work Breathe a ghostly portrait emerges from the fragile architecture of a geranium leaf. It’s one of the first images created through a new photographic process Cazenave calls Pelargonium printing. Although pushing photography in exciting new directions, Cazenave’s new process engages with some of the medium’s longstanding concerns: light, time and memory. The concept of a photograph as an “exact trace of light, shadow, time and space” is paramount to the artist. She cites Susan Sontag’s On Photography, regarding the process of looking at a photograph: “‘The photograph of the missing being will touch me like the delayed rays of a star’ – I think it’s a beautiful way to explain photography,” she says. Having recently lost someone close to her, the artist places great value on: “The notion that light can freeze time for the keeping, as a physical keepsake.” Cazenave’s interest in photography was piqued at an early age when a school teacher introduced her …


Gammelyn's Daughter

The dreamlike fairytales of Kirsty Mitchell

For Kirsty Mitchell, photography can be an escape hatch. “The basis of that was reality was awful and I needed to create something that allowed me to block everything out. In 2007, my life was at a bit of a crossroads. I’d been unwell and found myself becoming quite introverted. I picked up a camera and it became this voice for me when I couldn’t talk about what I was going through.” When her mother Maureen was diagnosed with a brain tumour, the medium’s capacity for transformation helped her deal with the trauma of losing a parent. She began her project, Wonderland, in the summer of 2009, as a small project to help her make sense of her grief. “The only way I could deal with it was [through] photography. It was this absolute rage that went through me and I threw myself into something obsessively. I started taking hundreds of photographs constantly, to lose myself in something other than what I was dealing with.” Comprised of otherworldly images that can feel like fragments from a …


Thomas Albdorf’s manufactures beauty and uncertainty by mixing the natural and the digital


Thomas Albdorf’s still lifes are never quite what they seem – the more you look, the more the perspectives, shapes and colours shift, reflecting the Austrian photographer’s interest in manufacturing beauty and uncertainty out of the seemingly mundane. “What fascinates me when I look at art created by other people is how they engage with simple objects within their immediate reach,” he says. “I feel drawn to people who manage to create something very beautiful and charming out of almost nothing.” Albdorf’s immediate surroundings are the outskirts of Vienna, an area he wandered in search of raw material for his Former Writer series. Seizing on wood, wire, tyres and fridges, he created a kind of ‘edgelands’ trash art, sometimes adding paint to enhance the sense of uncertainty. “I used to do graffiti writing but I stopped at an early age because it’s quite superficial,” he says. “But as I was wandering the peripheries of Vienna, I saw tags and I wanted to use a spray can again. “I like the idea because one of the easiest tools to use …


Keith Arnatt, Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self, 1969 copy

Keith Arnatt: the conceptual photographer who influenced a generation

Unless you’re well-versed in the British conceptual art scene of the 1970s, Keith Arnatt’s name might not register the strongest recognition. Yet, Arnatt has a case for being one of the most influential British artists and photographers of his generation, pushing the boundaries of his mediums and going on to be a chief influence on the likes of Martin Parr and Paul Graham. A major exhibition of his work, Absence of the Artist, is currently showing at Sprüth Magers in London, marking the years between 1967 and 1972 during which some of Arnatt’s most vital and enduring work was created. Today, artists and photographers freely cross the boundaries between what was once considered ‘art’ and ‘photography’. But Arnatt, who studied philosophy at Oxford and trained in drawing and painting at the Royal Academy School in London in the late 1950s, was a pioneer in bringing conceptual ideas from the sphere of art to photography. The early phase of his career explored the boundaries between landscape and sculpture, echoing the work of artists like Richard Long and …


The angels of lot (Gli angeli di lot), 2008. From Sodom and Gomorrah © Alessandro Bavari

Alessandro Bavari – in the belly of the beast

There are many disparate moments in Alessandro Bavari’s childhood that inform the artist he is today – watching tadpoles hatch, the first time he walked into a Gothic church in Burgundy, losing grip of a balloon and seeing it bob away, meeting its fate against a rose bush. He says these impressions are so profound – a sensation, a feeling of wonder, a sound – they occasionally crop up in his work. Bavari uses mixed-media techniques to create a unique body of work that incorporates both photography and film. He often draws on literary influences, offering his own interpretation using model sets, organic objects, photography and digital manipulation. The results are often macabre, and sometimes irreverent. His ongoing series, Sodom and Gomorrah, is one such unique fusion of media. “Sodom and Gomorrah was first conceived 15 years ago. I was inspired by Invisible Cities, a novel by Italo Calvino, written and published in the 1970s, but which he cultivated over many years through travel notes and reflections, and organised by themes – the five senses, …


A still-life love-letter to an East London lost to money

Dalston’s Ridley Road Market is an East London institution, but to a newcomer it can feel like an overwhelming assault of sights, sounds and smells. At once thrillingly vibrant yet strangely anachronistic, the market is the sort of place where you’re as likely to pick up a goat’s head or a Giant African land snail as you are hair extensions or an international phone card. It has been a focal point for the area’s diverse demographic since the 1880s, and apparently inspired the fictional market in BBC1’s Eastenders. Yet in recent years gentrification has laid claim to much of the surrounding area, threatening the delicate balance of this microcosm of East London life. That this complex and captivating social nexus might be lost for future generations has been one of the main motivations for photographer and local resident Lorenzo Vitturi, putting his successful advertising career on hold for a year in order to explore it more thoroughly. “I wanted to do a project before gentrification completely transformed the area,” he explains. “Even while working in advertising, …


From 1800 Millimètre © Emi Anrakuji

Emi Anrakuji – ‘1800 millimetres. It’s the size of my bed’

The elusive Emi Anrakuji. Her work seems to have exploded onto the photography scene in early 2000, attracting the attention of Daido Moriyama in 2004. “He was very much impressed,” says Emi, whose body of work is a series of self-portraits in which she often focuses on the most intimate details of her anatomy while simultaneously concealing her identity. It’s this contradiction that obfuscates the viewer. Legs splayed, crouched on a bed on all fours, a finger inserted into her vagina – the self-portraits in 1800 Millimètre, Emi’s latest body of work, “are not erotic at all,” she says. “1800 millimetres is just the size of my bed.” A bed to which she was confined, which came to represent her world – the very world from where her work originated. “It’s work that came out of my sickbed.” In 1800 Millimètre, Anrakuji poses nude, in solitude, in close shadowy settings – the confines of her bedroom staged for the gaze of a lens. She describes herself as “an alchemist of images”, blurring the contrived and the authentic …


From Denudate 2015 © Neola Loretta McDavid

The female derobed: Neola McDavid’s untainted nudes

“Trust is very important when you ask someone to take their clothes off so you can photograph them nude,” says Neola Loretta McDavid, who will soon graduate from the University of Roehampton with a BA Honours in Photography. “Your subjects need to have confidence in you as a photographer, and they need to feel comfortable in themselves.” McDavid’s series of nude portraits, Denudate 2015, exudes strength – stripped back, it presents women in a state of undress, stoic in their own personal space, the only props being the intimate objects in their homes. Her series, like the meaning of the title itself, bares all – it strips women of the labels imposed upon them by society and returns them to their natural state, as “supreme beings” – equal to men, neither subordinate nor superior. “The women in my portraits signify empowerment. They are not obstructed by the mores of society or media in the way that influences how women are portrayed today. The women aren’t sexualised, nor are their poses meant to be suggestive. I’m not using the female …


Figure Eight, Serra Pelada, Brazil. 1986.

Sebastião Salgado: “I had travelled to the dawn of time.”

Sebastião Salgado has created some of the twentieth century’s most iconic photography. From war zones to famine, genocide to exodus, Salgado has documented many of the world’s major events of the last 40 years in crisp black-and-white pictures. He’s also won countless prizes, including being named last week as a Master of Photography at Photo London this weekend. Now, in homage to the great photographer, the German filmmaker Wim Wenders and Salgado’s Paris-based son Juliano Salgado have collaborated on a documentary about the photographer’s life and work. The film, The Salt of the Earth, has already won a host of accolades, including an Oscar nomination, and will be released this July. In the film, Sebastião discusses some of his most famous photographs. When talking of the captivating images of 50,000 gold-grubbers scaling ladders like ants into an the Serra Pelada mine in Brazil, he says: “Every hair on my body stood on edge. The Pyramids, the history of mankind unfolded. I had travelled to the dawn of time.” He discusses his hellish images of burning oilrigs in Kuwait …


Augustin Rebetez: Method man

“What is a photographer today?” asks Stefano Stoll, director of the biennial Images: Festival des Arts Visuels de Vevey. “There are plenty of shows and museums that ask this question. Now everybody has a smartphone and is a photographer – compare that to the 1960s when only a few people had a camera and there was no digital. It’s a very different world.” His festival tests the boundaries of this world by showing artists who push photography into fantasy and fiction; one of the best examples this year is Augustin Rebetez, who beat off 800 competitors in 2013 to win the prestigious Vevey International Prize. Awarded 40,000 Swiss Francs and a brief to create new work for the festival, he’s come up with a wild installation that combines illustration, performance, music and painting. “Augustin is not the answer, but he is part of the question,” says Stoll. “He’s looking for other ways of self-expression using photography, mixing it with drawing, installation and performance. What’s interesting for us is we’re showing an artist who is asking …


BJP Staff