Patrick Photos

A personal photography project

Tag: Art (Page 1 of 8)

From Life

The From Life exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts opened on 11 December and I thought it would be worth going to during my days off between Christmas and the new year.

If you do decide to pay a visit, I would suggest starting in the Sackler Wing by the historical paintings of the Royal Academy life drawing room and ending in the Tennant Gallery with the virtual reality. And if you have access to Sky Arts at home is to watch Royal Academy: Painting the Future.

I’m pretty impressed by how a couple of the artists have embraced new technology like virtual reality. Also how all the artists have their own way in viewing the human body.

Before Christmas, I purchased the accompanying book to the exhibition and I am pretty glad that I did as it gave me more context to what I was seeing. It is a shame that not all the works in the book were on display. I would liked to have seen a few more pieces that did not depict the human body as object but more, shall we say, human. However, this is the Royal Academy of Arts and not the National Portrait Gallery.

This exhibition has made me really think. How do artists create life in a portrait? Can you really create a sculpture in virtual reality? With virtual reality are we going to do away with art galleries? Should we treat people as objects?

As you leave the Sackler wing you are confronted with Jenny Saville’s Entry which is a large image of what appears to be a woman with a battered face. Is this a message to not forget humans have feelings and can get hurt.

From Life is on until 11 March 2018.

Girl on Girl

I first came across this book Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze by Charlotte Jansen from an article on the CNN website.

For those of you who have not yet opened the link, the article is an edited version of the introduction from the book. As soon as I finished reading it I immediately placed a click and collect order from Waterstones which I picked up today. So, I haven’t had the book long and this is just a first look.

The book is a showcase of 40 photographers/artists in which Jansen does a one page review on each which is also accompanied by a selection of their work. It is provocative, clever and with a wide cross section of differing approaches to the subject is thought provoking.

What I have looked at so far has made me consider what my views and assumptions are on how women are seen in Western modern society.

It is rare to see a book like this. When I started this project, I was heavily influenced by work that was made for and by the male gaze. With so much of it around it is not that surprising. It takes effort and a willingness to search for that alternative view and this book is a good place to start.

17 August 2017 Now that I’ve had some time to think about the images in this book I have come to see how difficult it is for female photographers to also be effected by the male gaze. After all female photographers are living in the same world as everyone else.

If a viewer decides to see a piece of art differently from the way an artist intended there is very little anyone can do about it. Trying to be ironic when the (male) viewer doesn’t get the mockery just adds another piece into the pile for the male gaze category.

The challenge against the male gaze is truly enormous and I do wonder if it is even possible. But female photographers and artists have a duty trying to find their own path to challenge our visual environment.

For me, I too need to find a way past my own prejudices and biases in the work I’m creating. It isn’t going to be easy but the effort I believe will be worth it.

John Berger

At the start of this project I thought that I would be spending most of my time taking pictures. What I have found is that I have been spending a lot of my time reading, like these three books by John Berger.

john-berger

Having a deeper understanding of what I want to say in the images I am taking and why I am taking them is very much what this project is all about. And the only way to get that knowledge is by reading.

It is a shame I’m a fairly slow reader, so if you are looking for a review on these books you may have to wait a while.

[If you have access to the BBC iPlayer John Berger: The Art of Looking is still available for a few more days]

18 November 2016 Ways of Seeing is the first book for me to complete. I’m going to sum it up with the following cliché – if you only buy one book about art this year then this is the one to buy.

Most books about art or photography are either how to guides or a collection of works. This book is different in that it makes you question your relationship with what you are looking at. How your role plays a part in how you view the work in front of you.

Even though the book was written in the 1970s it is still relevant today. It is not often you put a book down and say, “wow, I would never have thought of that.”

3 January 2017 Sad to learn that John Berger has died at the age of 90. From the obituaries and social media tributes, his work touched both those he met and those who admired it in print. I’m sure his influence will live on.

John Berger 1926 – 2017.

March 2017 I wasn’t wrong about being a slow reader as I have just finished reading Understanding a Photograph. The reason why I’m a slow reader is that I’m easily distracted. I blame all those cat videos on the Interweb.

In my earlier review of Ways of Seeing I started with a cliché, so I may as well continue with that tradition. Understanding a Photograph is a study of why a picture is worth a thousand words. The book is a collection of essays and interviews of photographers by John Berger. There are very few images in this book so it is very text heavy. Don’t get this book if you are hoping to find an album of cracking well composed creative images.

So what is the point of this book if it isn’t a picture book? The point is that good photography has something to say. Communicating a message through photography has to tell the viewer why the picture they are looking at is important or relevant to their life.

The book is quite political. The argument made in the book being that the world we live in and any changes to it has to be made on a political level. I don’t feel comfortable discussing some of the specific points raised in the book on this platform, so for the time being I will keep those opinions to myself. But if you do get to read this book and want to share your views in the comments section below by all means do.

It does make me realise how difficult it is to create a photograph that has such a strong message that you remember that image for the rest of your life. Only a few select photographers have ever managed to achieve that goal. Does that mean that you should give up trying? The answer has to be no, as the next press of the button could be that picture.

Now on to the first page of Portraits: John Berger on Artists. But what is that I can see out of the corner of my eye? Oh yes, it is that cat punching a stuffed toy tiger.

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