Illumination: an Exhibition of Fine Art Photography presents images which leave the audience in awe of the inherent talent and vision of the artists represented. Each work on display has a story to be told in the single scene before us, evoking strong emotional and aesthetic reactions individual to every piece and every viewer. The result is both impressive and unforgettable.
Setting up a photography studio right on her dining room table, Iryna Brown’s seemingly makeshift technique yields complex, fascinating results. She transforms familiar objects into startling new incarnations of themselves through her discerning eye. Simplicity yields rich results for Brown. The objects she selects to photograph are carefully curated and composed to communicate that the common and habitual in our daily lives can be unique – a reminder that the everyday can be a magical work of art.
Often printing her photos on canvas, Brown creates works that evoke an art historical notion of the still life painting. Her asymmetrical compositions employ a language of symbolism that is rooted in the everyday – through the use of ripe fruits, quaint teaware, and baby dresses found in her home. Brown shoots her photos using naturalistic color; the only filter is that of her windowpane. She skillfully uses sharp focus on her diaristic subjects, highlighting the nuances of their surface, pattern, and texture. She also uses crisp white backgrounds that seemingly pop her subjects off the surface of the print. Iryna Brown’s photographs elevate the everyday to fine art.
Sophie Chemla’s digital photography demands to be noticed, using a combination of boisterous colors, daring camera angles, and intriguing text. Chemla photographs uniquely urban sights at close, almost confrontational range, so that a metal safety gate is abstracted into a stunning Art Deco pattern or a row of concrete, industrial columns becomes monumental in scale. Her eye for overlooked detail is unerring – the work constantly demands that the viewer go outside and see their “ordinary” surroundings with better eyes. Chemla’s personal touch is to add a kind of digital graffiti over each image in strategic places. She puts a shocking-pink “LOVE IT” across a monochrome arcade, or parading across the famous façade of the Guggenheim museum. The words mirror the irrepressible energy of the city and celebrate the possibility of the unexpected, which is ever-present in urban life. Her latest series features the word “ARCANES.”
Sophie Chemla was born in Paris, France, and spent time living in New York before moving to her current home of Tel Aviv. She has exhibited in all three countries.
Justin Cliffe’s black-and-white photography encapsulates the aesthetic of a modern romantic. The artist utilizes cleanness and sharpness – in lines, tone, and textures, with a compositional emphasis on highly contrasted darks and lights. A sense of drama is inherent to this approach, so much so that the photographs tilt from hyper-realistic to downright unreal. Though Cliffe searches out severe light effects and odd spaces (rather than creating them on a computer), the pictures still suggest an otherworldly place. This uncanny effect is heightened further by the artist’s idiosyncratic subject matter. Cliffe is a street photographer, but he does not create casual or slice-of-life images. His work shows commuters walking on strangely lit streets, people creating radical silhouettes simply by chance, and public spaces mysteriously emptied of anyone at all. Often the photographs capture bursts of action, such as a bicycle sailing through the frame or a commuter hurrying homewards.
Cliffe was born in Surrey, England and currently works from London. He is a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and his work has been included in several prestigious publications, including National Geographic Traveller and the Daily Telegraph (UK).
Philip J. Cunningham
Inspired by a college photo-internship and the allure of long-exposure, time-lapse photography, Philip J. Cunningham succeeds in revealing the essence of his subjects rather than re-photographing the well-known. Working in the absence of direct sunlight, he captures the beauty of the world at night and during overcast days. His moonlit subjects and fiery sunsets powerfully portray a world in slumber or transition. Each photograph is patiently shot, carefully composed and meticulously edited. “I work to bring out the best in a photograph, both when I take it and later when I’m editing,” says Cunningham.
Through judicious use of greys and attenuated colors, Cunningham eschews the blatancy of sunlit spectral pieces. He draws viewers into every photograph with subtlety and nuance. Some portray nature in its simplest form while others evoke a soul-searching narrative. Through the artist’s lens, one sees a creative passion driven by the need to reveal what the naked eye cannot. In this, the photographer, who first held a camera in hand as a child, reveals a studied skill few have mastered.
The landscapes of Estonian/Canadian photographer Erik Kerstenbeck have a sense of depth and subtle range of color that makes the viewer feel as if they're standing in his shoes and experiencing the environment as he did when he meticulously executed the composition. From beach scenes to cityscapes, this artist possesses the ability to capture something unusual and intriguing in every photograph.
As an engineer and artist, Erik sees light from a technical and emotional perspective. Thinking about the way light navigates around a landscape helps him to visualize how best to capture that light and create his stunning compositions. All of the resulting photographs are printed on paper which is chosen to enhance the three-dimensional appearance of the print, making the colors brighter, and more vivid. The high quality paper that Erik uses makes it appear as if the scene were backlit. Through continued travel, exploration, innovation and the application of new techniques, Erik hopes his art will make people smile and pause... and take a second look… and then another.
In his photographs, Tim Knight focuses on the textures and patterns of the world around him, turning landscapes and interiors into personal visions. “I want to show the essence of the places I love and the depth of my own feeling for them,” he says, and his pictures achieve that goal through a sharp eye for detail and a painterly, expressive use of light and color. There is often a dreamy, otherworldly quality to his pictures, giving each locale a life of its own, and the viewer is presented with striking motifs within the simplest objects.
Knight shoots his images on film, which gives them a powerful sense of presence. In particular, the glowing light in many of his photographs makes the most of film’s properties. The artist also says that shooting on film makes him rethink the world as he records it. “To make the final photograph work,” he says, “I have to try to see the world as the film sees it.” That process results in works that are both carefully thought through and reflect the vividness and immediacy of the scenes they depict.
“No one ever dreams of the world, only of their place in it,” says Canadian photographer Spencer McCall. His provocative photographs, printed on fine art paper in color or black-and-white, probe moments of daily living in lands both near and far. Interested in capturing the small, transient, unconscious moments of the day, his work details the daily lives of people in built environments. Framed by the unique landscapes of urban living, his subjects express through subtle physical gestures and facial expressions the universal language of the body, intellect and spirit. Having traveled extensively throughout the world including in South Korea and Japan, his work explores the nuances of the local in a global visual context. Able to capture the energy and vibrant social life of many places, McCall is at home wherever he goes and allows the photographic image to be his commentary on the world.
Spencer McCall is a Canadian fine art photographer. He attended the University of Toronto and is currently living in Saskatoon, Canada.
Amidst the majestic color and surge of humanity in the Andes and Latin America, photographer Ines Miguens discovers an essence of universal consciousness in the lives and heritage of its peoples. The spiritual connections between man and the natural world remain central to these works, along with a reverence for the rich tapestry of human experience. Miguens’ powerful imagery becomes a visual witness to our shared religious origins throughout traditional cultures, capturing the eternal mysteries of rites and ritual as she creates links with a timeless wonder. She creates her large scale digital photography and art on canvas in both color and black-and-white, allowing the visual force of her images space to develop.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and of North American and German descent, Ines Miguens was a passionate photographer from an early age, and later went on to study at the Pedro Luis Raota School of Art. Soon to release her fourth book and leading lectures and workshops worldwide, Miguens’ distinguished career as a professional photographer spans the fields of both fine art and journalism.
“My mantra,” says Barbara Moore, “has always been, ‘Wherever your eyes go, there’s a picture.’” While Moore honed her craft behind 35mm and medium format film cameras, she now shoots her photographs digitally, using a Nikon D50 that she calls her “right hand.” The mobility of the digital camera lets her take pictures almost anywhere, and the sharpness of the digital image makes the most of the photographer’s finely developed sense of light, color and composition.
In Moore’s clear, elegantly composed pictures, she expresses both her experience and her vision through a wide range of scenes — from a blacktop highway receding through a grassy expanse, to clouds of mist and fog hanging between a landscape’s hills. Her pictures celebrate each scene she photographs, transforming fields and forests into places that have an almost mystical glow. The artist is especially good at capturing the effect that light has on an environment, using it to pull out a variety of textures, subtly alter the colors we perceive and open up the space of each scene. “If there’s light anywhere,” she says, “I’m on it!”
Love U Sev
The surreal portrait photography of French artist Love U Sev is both compelling and otherworldly. Love U Sev approaches her photographs in an entirely new way, superimposing her own self-portraits with portraits of American singer Michael Jackson, without retouching either image. The resulting picture is a figurative study in contrast and juxtaposition, as elements of each face emerge and recede to create a surrealistic and highly emotive effect that is almost abstract in its execution. The driving force behind Love U Sev’s art is a deep and abiding love. Indeed, these photographs were inspired by two intense dramas that occurred in the artist’s life: the death of Michael Jackson in 2009 and that of her husband in 2010. The emotional depth of the resulting images is nothing if not intense. And the truncation of the artist’s own face is both symbolic and deliberate, for as she explains “I am not whole any more… these photos are my heart slept on glazed paper.”
Love U Sev currently lives and works in Paris, France.
Delicately balanced and exquisitely detailed, Valerii Tkachenko’s photographs are gems of the landscape genre. Tkachenko travels the world to capture the most romantic city images – iconic images such as Venetian canals and Parisian bicycle stands, but also often overlooked urban beauties such as medieval alleyways and bays crisscrossed by fishing boats. The photographs focus on a single street, bridge, or waterway, and pack in as much detail as possible. There are no people or even animals, only the living, breathing city. Tkachenko’s influences are diverse, ranging from ancient Chinese calligraphy to twentieth century photographers like Ansel Adams, Don Hong-Oai, and Alfred Stieglitz. He also experiments with different printing and coloring processes including, recently, photogravure, to achieve subtle shifts in atmosphere: a warm sepia tint for a lit-up Bruges street, versus a majestic blue-gray wash for a snow-covered mountain. For Tkachenko, landscape is an emotional subject. The viewer should not only see the image, but enter into the environment and experience it.
Valerii Tkachenko was born in the Poltava region of Ukraine and today lives in Kiev. He has exhibited in Italy, Austria, England, and the United States.
The thoughtful beauty of Dennis Tyler’s photography emerges with an ethereal clarity, capturing fragments of eternity in an exquisite visual meditation. Illuminated in the delicate balance of a single moment in time, Tyler brings a glimpse of life into sculptural detail, finding an inner depth and power through contemplation of his imagery. The artist’s observations are focused on form, whether manmade or natural, and are expressed in a subdued palette with an organic grace. The works are created as digital prints on paper in an invitingly wide and open format, allowing the quiet power of the imagery to develop so that the emotive and aesthetic potential of the scene is fully realized.
Born in New Orleans, Tyler studied at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and Dominican University in San Rafael, as well as gaining a Bachelors of Science in Graphic Arts Technology from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. He is now based in San Francisco and is active in numerous local arts and charitable organizations.