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Art Photo Collector

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"Obey the principles without being bound by them."—Bruce Lee 

I came across the work of Michael Mapes quite by accident via the BBC. Seeing it for the first time online, however, I was struck with intense curiosity. How were these portraits constructed, and how much work went into creating them? On the off-chance, I sent Michael an email. We later spoke on the phone and arranged to meet in person to chat and to view his work.

Referencing Dutch Master portraiture, Michael Mapes,”specimens” deconstruct and painstakingly re-construct how our eyes interpret. It takes a particular artistic vision to manifest work that takes you somewhere new. Vials of hair, resin, sequins, thread, photos, jewelry and more—all (at the end of a pin) go into making these “dimensional collages.” The result is a portraiture unlike anything I’ve seen before. 

For now, Michael Mapes may be relatively unknown, but if his work continues to follow, and not be bound by, the principles of good art—authenticity, resonance, and a yearning for beauty— his work will not remain so. This guy is onto something. —Lane Nevares 

“I think of my work as documentations of transformation and performance. While gender is undoubtedly always a question in my work, I don’t see it as a boundary.” --Martín Gutierrez

As we know, things aren’t always what they seem. The artist, Martín Gutierrez, explores this ambiguity and the Real Doll phenomenon by casting himself into domestic scenes that float somewhere between suburban bliss and the Stepford Wives.

I am always inspired by artists who challenge convention, and in the case of Gutierrez, completely own their work. While these images may, on first glance, appear superficial and banal, there is far more going on. Gutierrez is responsible for everything in his images/videos: producing, directing, writing, casting, posing, styling, original music, and shooting the scenes. For this series, he casts himself as a “Real Doll”, and in doing so, creates a world that both disturbs and allures.

His first solo show, Martin(e), opens on the 11th at Ryan Lee Gallery in Chelsea. I am curious to see whether these small 8 x 12 inch images command attention, or whether they beg for a large-scale experience. —Lane Nevares

“A photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see.” —Roland Barthes

The Beijing-based artist, Liu Bolin, often known as “The Invisible Man,” creates works of art that operate on many levels. Part painting, photography, conceptual art and multi-faceted social critique, Bolin’s work is testament to his courage and determination to create work despite the cultural and political constraints he lives under.

In a recent TED talk, Bolin discussed his ideas and the motivations behind his work. His exploration of becoming “invisible” is a means to provoke ideas and for us to question the “inter-canceling relationship between our civilization and its development.” Needless to say, his arresting images are impressive to behold and painstakingly executed.

For an opportunity to meet the artist and to see his latest solo show, Liu Bolin: Mask, Eli Klein Fine Art is hosting an opening and reception tomorrow evening here in New York. Hopefully, Liu Bolin won’t be too hard to find. —Lane Nevares

“In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses — as artist, as Moroccan, as traditionalist, as Liberal, as Muslim.  In short, I invite viewers to resist stereotypes.”—Lalla Essaydi

The work of Lalla Essaydi reminds me why I love photography. Sumptuous, complex, referential and captivating, her images seek the sublime. Underlying this aspiration for a transcendent beauty is a rich intellectual foundation that Essaydi eloquently explores in her writing. To appreciate the depth of her art is to read her statement

These large-scale works from her series “Harem Revisited” and “Bullets Revisited” will go on display tomorrow at Edwynn Houk Gallery in NYC. What we see online cannot reveal the elaborate detail in the intricate (and time consuming) henna calligraphy applied to her models, nor can it reveal the details in her staged sets. The photographs online, however, can lure us into reshaping our ideas of women, Arab culture and what photography can do. Join Lalla Essaydi on this journey. —Lane Nevares

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

The Italian artist, Ivano Atzori, is a man in pursuit of ideas. An outsider artist, self-taught, and embracing everything from graffiti to fashion to performance art, Atzori’s restless energy and work isn’t readily classifiable. Nor should it be. His work has been featured everywhere from Italian Vogue to the streets of New York City.

In this performance piece, “Experience,” Atzori uses an arsonist’s crime scene as his canvas. Having discovered and fought the fire, he would later return, shrouding his identity in paper, and once again physically confront the landscape—feeling, digging, scraping, and eventually setting himself free. A meditation on life, death and transformation, Atzori’s “experience” may be ephemeral, but his ideas of nature, destruction, resurrection and release are as old as life. —Lane Nevares

"I’d say most of my inspiration was drawn from old-school American values mixed with a little punk-rock idealism."—Mike Brodie

Mike Brodie’s new monograph, A Period of Juvenile Prosperity has just been released in time for his two forthcoming solo shows: one in LA and one in NYC. For a diesel-engine mechanic who thinks of photography as a “hobby,” this is mighty impressive. 

Many will look at these images of young travelers living free and criss-crossing the USA as something raw and exciting, but like many things in life—“Riding the Rails” isn’t anything new. In fact, during the Great Depression more than 250,000+ homeless teenagers were doing the same. The excellent documentary, Riding the Rails, tells the story of these young people and the effect that experience had on the rest of their lives.

Brodie’s images, however, tell an American, 21st Century story that is about freedom, possibility, and opting-out from society’s dictates. These young people (who may be fleeing tough circumstances themselves) are choosing to live a different way of life. Brodie’s friends, lovers, and fellow travelers show us the rough, the real, and the nitty-gritty of life on the move.

Self-taught, Brodie is an innately talented photographer with a great sense of light and composition. This series is strong, sensitive, authentic, and will be one of the important photography shows to see in March. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibit and buying the book. (I am also including this show on my upcoming gallery tour.) Brodie’s photographs have made me eager to discover other artists, especially those outside of the States, who are living and documenting life on the road. —Lane Nevares 

"The road must eventually lead to the whole world."—Kerouac, On the Road

“I believe everyone in your dreams represents a psychological aspect of yourself. So the whole Guest group is offered as an extended self-portrait - females and all.”—Chris Bucklow

The Danziger Gallery in New York has recently opened its second solo show of Christopher Bucklow’s arresting photograms. While certainly not a departure, artistically speaking, from his past photographic work, these photograms are nevertheless beautiful to behold. 

Light on paper. Each print is a unique display: the sun’s rays poring through thousands of pinhole apertures in an aluminum foil sheet mapping a human silhouette, each photogram reflecting the length of exposure and intensity of the sun at a given moment. The final result is singular and ethereal, a Cibachrome print that is its own negative. 

Beauty is a worthy pursuit whatever the medium. Bucklow’s love of light and color, along with the psychological underpinnings of this work, give these photograms their staying power. Already part of many major museums and collections, Bucklow’s sun-fueled photographs remind us that it’s ok to believe in our dreams. —Lane Nevares

"Justice in the conduct and life of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."—Plato 

Although we do not hear enough about it, there are more than 70,000 juveniles presently incarcerated in the United States. Richard Ross, a Professor/photographer at the University of California Santa Barbara, has spent more than five years in over 300 facilites in 31 states documenting, interviewing, and photographing what we do to young people in this country. This project, Juvenile-in-Justice, and the accompanying book offer a sobering analysis of how we administer justice in the USA.

Ross’s skills as a photographer are quite evident throughout his work. While these images may on the surface appear perfectly composed and cooly detached, they are, in fact, indictments of injustice. This rich alchemy of beauty and indignation gives these images their power and resonance.

Juvenile-in-Justice is on view in NYC at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts until Saturday, and then moves on to the LA Municipal Art Gallery. For an excellent and poignant overview of the project, this video is required viewing.  --Lane Nevares 

"It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled in them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are wounded." —W. Somerset Maugham

The International Center of Photography in New York recently announced their 29th Annual Infinity Awards. In the “Young Photographer” category, Kitra Cahana (b. 1987) is this year’s winner. Unknown to me, I visited her site and was immediately drawn in.

Cahana’s series on nomads and teens, in particular, caught my eye. In photography, the quality of light (and the attention given to it) means everything. Her judicious use of it gives her color images a moodiness that is both pleasing and full of uncertainty—like the kids she photographs. At age 25, Cahana reveals a depth rarely found in the work of her contemporaries. Her ICP award is well deserved. —Lane Nevares

"You don’t see the things you photograph. You feel them."André Kertész

Tucked away in the Clamp Art gallery, Evzen Sobek’s Life In Blue series is a little gem of a show. I first encountered this series, shot along the Nové Mlýny reservoirs in the Czech Republic, upon publication of the monograph in 2011. Since then it has gathered notoriety and has been featured in many blogs and publications. I was pleased to see the work first-hand and in relation to one another.

For those of you in NYC, I include a visit to this show on my fine art photography tour to illustrate how deceptively easy it appears, but how difficult it is, to achieve coherency in a body of work. In this series, the color blue is the ostensible motif, but Sobek’s ability to create a consistent mood, or feeling, is what makes the work shine. Join me and others for lively conversation and fun this Saturday. —Lane Nevares 



"Whatever is in any way beautiful hath its source of beauty in itself, and is complete in itself; praise forms no part of it. So it is none the worse nor the better for being praised." —Marcus Aurelius 

Beauty, in the most sublime sense, is an inherent good. When I encounter it, I am reminded how little it matters what I, or anyone else, think about it. Writing over 1,800 years ago, Marcus Aurelius, as many others before him, understood it too. 

I recently came across the Pakistani-born, Tokyo-based photographer Arif Iqball's work via David Alan Harvey’s excellent online magazine burn.  These pictures of Geiko and their apprentice Maiko are simple, elegant, contemplative, and sumptuous with color. It is the respect and love from the photographer that infuses them with their sensitivity. His admiration for Japanese culture and tradition is evident. Mr. Iqball is still developing as a photographer, but this delightful series (including the B&W version on his website) shows promise. —Lane Nevares 

"I felt that children smoking would have a surreal impact upon the viewer and compel them to truly see the acts of smoking rather than making assumptions about the person doing the act." Frieke Janssens 

Last week, I attended the preview for, “Smoking Kids,” by the Belgian photographer, Frieke Janssens. I was impressed at how much fun an opening could be. Rather than a stuffy affair, it was packed with well-dressed Belgians out in support of one of their own, enjoying live music and good drink. In essence, a party.

Frieke Janssens images of smoking children may, on first take, seem real, but they’re not. With any photographic work, much lies in what we bring to the moment of engagement with the image. Understanding a photographer’s intent, therefore, can sometimes be a little ambiguous. With these beautiful portraits of children, I find that to be the case. Janssens is asking us to question the viewer’s relationship to smoking, and then what?  Do these portraits transcend their stylized appeal?  

Janssens is an accomplished photographer bold enough to follow her imagination wherever it may lead. She understands how to produce good work, and I salute her. I suspect that despite some finding her depiction of children controversial, much of the work will sell here, as it has in Europe. The exhibit is up until the 8th of February at the VII Gallery in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Stay tuned, you’ll be hearing more about Frieke Janssens. —Lane Nevares

"I find that through the study of women, you get to the heart—the truth—of the culture."—Shirin Neshat 

The first New York solo show for Vienna-based artist, Sissi Farassat, recently opened at Edwynn Houk. Farassat, born in Iran, but reared in Austria, brings a unique fusion of Persian and Viennese influences into her work. A careful study of these photographs, reveals thousands of hand-stitched sequins, crystals and beads she uses to transform her photographs from one medium into another.

Of course, Farassat, isn’t the first to take a photograph, manipulate it by hand, and to create something new. What is wonderful about her work, however, is the attention and the commitment to the idea that a photograph possesses endless possibilities. —Lane Nevares

"It (taking photographs) is all about longing…without longing—no pictures at all."  —Anders Petersen

One of the nicest gifts I received this year is Anders Petersen’s latest monograph, ”Soho.” In collaboration with London’s noted Photographers’ Gallery and Mack Books, Petersen was given a four-week residency last year to shoot images of an area in London known for many things to many people. For Petersen, it was an opportunity to return to a place he’d known in the 70’s and could re-discover, thirty years later, through the lens.

While there are many impressive photographers working today, Anders Petersen is one of the finest. I am consistently astonished at the power of his photographs. His ability to infuse images with a poetic gaze that senses fragility and yearns for Beauty is the mark of an artist in love with his craft, and more importantly, in love with people. I can keep returning to his work and always find something deeper, more resonant. 

For a peek inside the book here’s a video. But I recommend discovering his work, first hand, in print. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in the magic of the photobook. —Lane Nevares

"I wasn’t born a commercial photographer. I was born an artist, and I’ve been doing art my whole life." —Jill Greenberg

The photographer, Jill Greenberg’s, latest show Horse is ending this week at ClampArt. With her signature lighting, Greenberg is back in action doing what she does best: portraits. Her work, distinctive and often imitated, rides a fine line between what many argue is “commercial” and what is “fine art.” I won’t belabor any distinctions here.

In the essay to her new book Horses. Greenberg writes, “I explore how the photography relates to gender issues and whether horses are perceived as feminine or masculine… I ended up getting to the place where they’re both.” Whether others see this connection is an open question, but from an aesthetic point-of-view, I find these portraits, with their powerful lighting and re-touched colors, to be quite appealing. They make me see horses in a fresh way.

For those of you who are curious about how Greenberg captured these images, here is a behind-the-scenes video of her in action. Given the set-up, crew, and the hard work that goes into producing a photo shoot, I can assure you that she’s not “horsing around.” —Lane Nevares