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Passing Shots

I like to make life relevant to art that I see and not just shoot art. It’s important for me to somehow relate to things that pass us by and we miss most times. I can any day get my hands on a print or copy of the artwork – so, I did want to concern myself with replication of a painting or illustration. With every shot, I tried to capture a moment where visitors, viewers or some aspect in the surrounding space related to the art on the wall. By shooting in a candid style, I was able to find some very dynamic relationships between the real life subject and the illustration or painting.

Superimposing for effect

Expression, stance and face characteristics echo in the illustrations of the student’s work at Design Academy Eindhoven. The lady in the photograph is one of the facilitators at the Academy. Framed in front of the lower panel, she represents a caricature. Yet, because of her powerful facial characteristics, the illustrations get overshadowed and she becomes the main subject. An illustration is usually more representative of peculiarities of character, but here the situation is reversed.

Jump Cut

At the India Art Fair, I captured the play of hands, the gesturing within the painting. In my frame, a young man holds up his hands to take a picture and his hands appear to be engaged with the hands of the person in the painting. The left side of the painting is further blank, allowing me to fill up the space with my interpretation. The viewer is not conscious of me and the painting is not conscious of him. I was conscious of both the user and the object. The dynamic between object and user is of ultimate importance for the designer.

Juxtaposing for emphasis

In this shot, I purposely obscured the lips of the painting by juxtaposing the viewer in my shot so that her lips fall within that same space. By not seeing something we would normally see, our attention is drawn to look for what is hidden. That becomes the voice. Also, both are women and the live woman is symbolized in the painting behind the real woman. Can an image be more powerful than the thing itself?

Drawing parallels in life and art

Visually, we tend to zone in on similarities. At SF MOMA, I was drawn to the large collar of a lady security attendant. I shot her quickly before she became self-conscious! On the wall, the angular white folds in Emilio Pettoruti’s painting resemble her collar. The proportions of colour in the woman and the painting were also similar. Brands aim to make images that can be retained in memory. How does Pettoruti do that in painting? How do we make shapes that can stay with people long after? Can a part of a dress like an exaggerated collar signify someone’s identity? Will I now always associate security guards and collars together?

Activating with graphic icons

At SF MOMA this painting by Chris Johanson “Untitled (Figures with black presence) shows people standing, all attached by coloured zigzag lines to a large black hovering presence. I liked the concept of the undefined black shape and how the lines are all coloured indicating different personalities. The portrait of this woman looks like she stepped out of the painting, as she got tired of being in there and decided to leave. The woman had unshackled herself. Was this feeling of being “bound” encourage me to take a picture of a woman walking away? Can a graphic empower us to act by showing us our state of inaction?

Pushing the medium

I took a picture of a girl taking a shot on her cell phone in front of Picasso’s painting Femme Assise dans un fauteuil (Woman seated in an armchair). The painting represents an experimental phase for the master. How could three- dimensional reality be transposed into a two-dimensional plane without illusionism? This painting is of Picasso’s mistress, composed of fragments, space appearing to become flattened. He was creating abstraction. The girl with the cell phone is also flattening the picture. Yet, what was a struggle for Picasso to achieve is thrown up next to a very everyday act – a woman with a cell phone camera. With photography becoming simplified, we no longer wait for the moment. Most people shoot images constantly just for the sake of capturing and nothing else. The cell phone removes the effort and trivializes the photographic image. Remarkable work can only come when we strive to perfect and enhance the medium.

Color,  psychology and constructivism

A sleeve of a woman in my camera frame was like the palette of Kandinsky’s painting on the wall at Pompidou. Titled White on White II and made in 1923, it was his struggle with the canvas. He wants to do something and the painting another thing. When we make designs, we struggle as well. At first my page is blank. As I fill it, the fight starts, to make it this and that. All those opposing forces and tensions come alive in Kandinsky’s painting. It ends as the note says “in the realization of his wishes.” When I complete a design, I feel fulfilled for a while. I am very kicked and happy. This is one phase. Then, I reflect back and feel I could have done better. And this feeling that I can always do better is what takes me to the next and the next.

Color and freedom

Can a single colour be more important than any other? I found the blue simply wonderful. We think black and white, but Yves Klein believed blue could change the world. The rectangular work on the left is Monochrome IKB 3 made in 1960. IKB stands for International Klein Blue! Working only in blue from 1949, this French artist found freedom in a single colour. Klein approached a chemist Edourad Adam to make the blue which he believed was perfect and that chemistry goes far beyond the frame. Can a single colour liberate us?

The curator had placed L’arbe, grande eponge bleu, made in 1962 on the right and I waited for the right moment. It happened for me! A man with big frizzy hair walked into the frame and stood right in front of the splash on the wall.

A colour can be active and it can activate. When I saw the splotch on the wall and the man in front of it, to me, they both looked like they had been made out of the canvas of blue. It was if they had been removed from the painting and placed aside.

Character becomes the image

Obviously named “The woman with a hat”, the large hat was what first caught my eye. This picture was shot to illustrate the context that we all wear different hats, yet we try to reach out to each other. The contrast between the painting from another period and the current times further accentuates this notion. Matisse in his attempt to break away from photorealism still manages to bring out expressiveness in this French bourgeoisie woman. The woman in the painting is reaching out with her expression, lost in thought. You want to know her story. The person in the photograph is reaching out to hear her story and he is wearing headphones.

In that entire space of SF MOMA, there are several paintings in the same period, by Matisse, in a similar splash of colors. Can a combination of colors draw out emotion? This is what the painting achieves. Irrespective of what we have to communicate as graphic designers, are you reaching out through your work? Do they see the person behind the design? Are people eager to listen to what you have to say?

By Anthony Lopez on Aug 30, 2014
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