> APLACE7: 16-00-00 Almost Abstract, show (select) File:APLACE7, select pics. Update: 2021-11-10.
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16-00-00 Almost Abstract, show

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2013 Arts Place: Almost Abstract.

- Lima, Peru. The melancholy, long ... withdrawing roar. (A reference to Matthew Arnold's poem: Dover Beach)

websrch:dover beach

The initial stimulus for this show lay in the tension between the "abstract" in art, and a more "representational" approach. The battles of the previous century between these two concepts are long over. However, the fallout is still with us.

Many, perhaps, most, graphic artists really believe, feel, deep down inside, that the proper business of art lies in manipulating line, form and colour, apart from any consideration of subject matter. And that these aspects of technique tap into a realm of artistic understanding that is independent of any need to reference the ordinary "external" world.

One result of these creativist ideas is that photography, from the artistic point-of-view, tends to be relegated to a separate realm. A world from which the usual evidences of "creativity", brush strokes, idiosyncratic colour choice, expressionist splats, blobs and drips, are missing.

The excellence of photographs, if any, is only to be found in technological sophistication, in the massive realism of huge, hi-res images, in quirky photo-editing effects, in thematic specialization, like fashion, sports or news photography, or in the kind of auteur or celebrity photography where the photographer or their subject matter is easily identifiable.

As a photographer who has only rarely strayed into the realms of brush and pencil, I'm uneasy at these assumptions. Though treated charitably by the artists with whom I associate (and only slightly less charitably by fellow photographers), I feel the need to rationalize my excursions into the photographically abstract.

A few of the pictures in this collection fall into a hybrid "abstract-concrete" category. That is, subjects that may at first seem to have only a predominant patterning or colour, but which, on closer examination, are very much part of the objective world.

It's this interplay of subjective interpretation and objective identity that interests me. An ambiguous or mysterious subject matter that can trigger a multi-level recognition of both form and matter at the same time, and sometimes also suggest a themative narrative.

Working with this dualism helps to reconcile a desire to remain true to the essence of photography, as a basically interpretive enterprise (lens + sensitive media), and a parallel artist's desire to explore the expressive impulse and to produce pictures of a more "creative" bent.

- Paint Portal, Port Colborne. Some of these pictures were previously shown at Arts Place under the show title: Photo Sketches. All were given varying degrees of the same watercolour-outline effect. But some move further down the path toward pure form.

- Curio shop, Pisac, Peru.

- There is no escape, Welland R.

- Yorick the carp, alas, L. Ontario.

- Sedimentary deposit, Long Point.

- Fishmarket, Pisac, Peru.

- Best buddies, despite everything, Niagara.

- Rust archipelago, Niagara.

- Brick continent, Port Colborne.

- Finding the path of least resistance, Shorthills.

- The Chicago "El".

- Ontario Generating Station roof, Niagara R.

- Rental property, Port Colborne.

- Campfire gone wild, Port Weller.

- Relentlessly diatonic, St. Kitts. The above picture owes its title to Glenn Gould, who, in a long ago satirical radio sketch, described the music of Petula Clark as "relentlessly diatonic". In my less affectionate moods, I confess to having sometimes applied the same term to the city of St. Catharines.

websrch:glen gould

websrch:petula clark

There follow a few boat pictures, less abstract, but employing my "photo-sketch" technique, as a compliment to the city of Port Colborne where the Arts Place Gallery is located.

- Boat butt, Cyprus registry, Welland C.

- Tug #1, Port Colborne.

- Tug #2, Port Colborne.

- Twins, Port Dalhousie.

- Coast Guard Griffon, casting off, Port C.

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