Monday, May 7, 2012

Mud man rides again

When I think of influences on my photography, I think of three people: Rembrandt, Karsh and Irving Penn.

Images of Rembrandt paintings were in our grade three readers in public school.  His Aristotle contemplating the bust of Homer  was an image that I saw as a child before I knew what fine art was or meant.  But it whacked me in the eye like a bolt of lightening.  Rembrandt showed me that visual images were only about light.

Karsh showed me how light could be used in photography and that it was flexible and a creative tool.

From Irving Penn I learned how to simplify a set, strip it away to the bare bones.

Penn did a great series in New Guinea in the 1970s of Asaro Mudmen.  I think his point, apart from making great images, was that everyone decorates their bodies; there is no bad fashion, just photographers and people who can't see the beauty in "foreign" culture.

The kids in grade three recently made masks that reminded me of the Penn Asaro portraits so I got some help from a family model to be a mud man for the camera.

It is transformative how masks change people.  There is something Jungian here, and what it is ain't exactly clear.  But it pokes around in the psychological/artistic territory I call neo-baroque.

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