For many years, I’ve been working to refine my vision in creating pure abstraction using the camera. It’s been difficult in ways I didn’t expect.
Making an abstract photograph can be hard, to begin with, because we can very easily make sense of pictures and figure out ‘what the thing is’. If you can tell what it is, it isn’t truly abstract.
Second, even if a photograph may be called truly abstract, it might not be beautiful or interesting. I’ve long known that I am mainly concerned with making pictures that are beautiful and interesting, in various ways, rather than pursuing the all-too-common goal in fine art of presenting ugliness.
With these two objectives forming a prime directive—it must be truly abstract and it must be lovely—most of the pictures I make inevitably fail the test. (What you see here on my web site are the ones that I feel succeeded…)
Every once in a while, I make a picture that, in every way, feels right. It simply clicks. And I know I’m on the right path for myself as an artist.
This is one of those images. I have many thousands of pictures in my body of work, but relatively few that I really love. This one just does it for me.
I made this picture in Korčula, Croatia. It’s a very beautiful city known for innumerable views and scenery that capture the heart and mind. But. as always, I look for something beyond the obvious.
This is a close-up, although not extreme macro, photograph of a metal door with dark brown paint. Over many years people had taped posters and flyers to the door. While the posters have long gone, the cracked and peeling residue of the tape remains, creating unbelievably intricate patterns and textures forming enigmatic shapes.
The detail captured here is almost unbelievable. I used my favourite camera of all time, the Sony A7R II, which has a resolution of 42.4 effective megapixels. With the camera on a tripod, I very carefully chose the settings for the shot and focused critically to get the absolute sharpest image possible. To the right is a small section of the image, enlarged to show the amazing detail. As you can see, I could easily cut this image apart to make an unlimited number of variations and sets of images designed to hang together on a wall.
Although the original capture was very monochromatic (pretty much all brown hues) I decided to make it a straight black-and-white to emphasize the very graphic nature of the image. It strongly reminds me of a pen and ink drawing, which I loved to do as a child and teenager. Maybe this is why it resonates with me so much?
What do you think? Do you like it? Why or why not? What does it remind you of?
Would you hang a huge print of this in your living room, or on your office wall?
I’d love to hear your comments, please post them here.
And, as always, contact me if you’d like to discuss a purchase.
Nat, thanks for sharing your method for making this intriguing image. very helpful to know that you also have found making abstracts to be difficult.
Hope all is well . I have to say these two pieces are my least favorite. They just feel to cold for me. But when I looked at your Urban Grunge gallery I loved it. So many beautiful abstracts. This is just personal preference as I love color. But wanted to give you my thoughts on the new work.
I really enjoy your work. It intrigues me and I find I get lost in them for some reason. Beautiful art