Humans have tried to tell stories in our art since we began to make it; creating multiple images to convey a narrative—whether that be on a cave wall, in religious triptych iconography, Muybridge’s galloping horse, and even modern movies and videos. As we as a species have found more ways to create images we have also found ways to combine not only different media, but to combine different images to create more complex narratives. This week’s artists have utilized multiple images to create a new image with many layers of information, and thus we are left with more complex narratives that are often left to us to discern as we wade through the multiplicity of ideas and possibilities.
Almost every time that we see multiple exposures they are often photographs; this is not the case with Pakayla Biehn, this week’s first artist. It is unclear whether or not Biehn uses photographs to begin with—though I would imagine that is the case—but all of the images that you see below are paintings. Her paintings are captivating, both conceptually and in terms of technical skill. Conceptually speaking, Biehn’s paintings are quite dreamlike and very personal, even candid; they are as if we could visualize her thoughts and feeling combined into one image. Memories and specific details rolled into one. Ambiguous and mysterious titles contribute a feeling of unfamiliarity, as if maybe these are thoughts we are not privy to.
Technically speaking she is as skilled as any other photorealistic painter I have shown, which is to say that she is extremely talented at what she does. Concerning narrative and story, there is much to go on with Biehn’s work. She is not as concerned about spelling it out to you as she is about exposing you to the raw emotive power of her imagery, and it works; the juxtaposition of figure and nature is compelling and says something universal about the experiences that we all have. All the time I was making this I was thinking of you. You or your memory. Ten Thousand Times Hope there’s someone. 2 years, 264 days and this morning. Never thought of you as my mtn top.
Next we have photographer Daniella Zalcman. Based in both New York City and London, both cities have taken a hold of her and she has developed a love for both. In her series New York + London she tells us about her time and experiences growing up in New York City before a move to a new home in London. The resulting double exposures are a picture of her combined vision of home. Uniquely, these fine art photographs are taken with her iPhone 4S. The choice to use a camera-phone is actually quite fitting as the images represent her vision of home as opposed to actual representations of each city. She is a photojournalist and wanted to remove the confines of her regular cameras to really create something as personal as possible. Now, the choice to shoot them on a phone does not mean that she was lazy with photo-editing; quite the opposite in fact and many hours were spent pairing images and rejecting multiple versions of compositions. The narrative in these photos is clearly more defined than in Biehn’s paintings, yet both are wonderfully executed concepts that are ripe with personal meaning for each artist. Memory is explored in these images as well; the tendency of memory to overlap experiences and create new ones is certainly considered as well.
Third this week is Finnish photographer Christoffer Relander and a beautiful series of photos called We Are Nature. Each ethereal portrait is a statement about our elemental relationship with the natural world we live in; these portraits are almost like personifications of nature itself, the avatars of the trees and leaves. Self-taught, Relander picked up photography while in the Finnish Navy as an extension of a life spent making art. Relander’s photography has a timeless quality to it that comes from its roots as a technique of analog photography.
Jacob Brostrup is up next. No stranger to muliplicity, Brostrup’s paintings are like a mash-up of Fong Qi Wei’s Time is a Dimension series and Jeremy Mann’s painting style—but that is just visually. Conceptually, Brostrup gives us colorfully surreal scenes of city life—mostly New York City. Brostrup uses multilple images and colors to give us different perspectives on the same scene; and each perspective reflects a different understanding of life.
In an interview with Lise Kristofferson, Brostrup was asked about his tendency towards using New York City as the subjects of his paintings. I think his answer says a lot about his style of painting and the theme of multiplicity that runs through his work:
“I have recently been in New York and was struck by the merging of so many different cultures into one. I don’t think this is found in so many other cities. If you ride on the subway and meet five different people, there is a big chance that they come from five different parts of the world. And it is this reality that shapes my paintings, in that I feel as though each stripe reflects a certain understanding of reality. Or that they each express a different point in time, be that point historical, or just a different point in time in the course of a day.¹”
The last interpretation of the theme Multiplicity comes from Seung Hoon Park and it comes in the form of multiple strips of film woven together to create an image. Park’s series, titled Textus, is a response to the urban sprawl that she (or he, I have seen both genders given on different blogs, I cannot find an answer for sure) has noticed living in Seoul. Each tapestry is woven from 8 mm or 16mm video film. Each image is created from multiple pictures, so the final product actually shows each building from different moments in time, albeit very close in proximity. In choosing different pictures Park gives each final piece depth not only physically with the curling of the film due to process, but depth conceptually, as Park touches on the timelessness of each of these monuments captured by film.
¹Interview publiched on kopenhagen.dk (art site) by Lise Kristoffersen, http://www.brostrup.dk/text/
Cover: Original photo by Folkert Gorter. Design by Matt McGillvray