Tag Archives: Photography

Christy Lee Rogers’ underwater spells

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Photographer Christy Lee Rogers creates wondrous underwater scenes of utter beauty, where seemingly choreographed entanglements of bodies and drapes weightlessly float in a muffled yet lush universe that brims with unbounded sensual energies.

Elan_fantome_du_coeur_webSmoke and gold_The_Touch_of_your Skin_is_BrokenReckless_The InnocentsFor the sensual rendering of the fleshes, the bright coalescing colours and the dramatic lighting, Rogers’ work has often been compared to Baroque painting. Similarly to the pursuit of the marvellous typical of Baroque art, her images excite the senses and  arouse a pervasive feeling of awe and wonder in the viewer. But each work also elicits feelings that can be assimilated to sublime, romantically intended as that ungraspable mixture of high pleasure and deep fear we feel in front of something majestic.

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Notwithstanding the above mentioned comparisons concerning the magnificent results, Christy Lee Rogers is endowed with an original and rare talent that made her  develop a unique way of expressing universal and timeless feelings by means of breaking with the conventions of her medium of choice and by obsessively experimenting with underwater photography. Elan_perdu dans l autre_web OdisseyIf the World Earth Could SpeakA self-taught photographer born in Hawaii, Christy Lee Rogers has always had a special relationship with water. But it wasn’t until eleven years ago – when one night, almost by chance, she started taking pictures of a friend jumped on a swimming pool – that the first inspiration hit her. As she told me when I interviewed her for Elephant magazine, that day her creative adventure had started and since then she has relentlessly experimented with the expressive possibilities that a camera, some models, a swimming pool and the moon light opened up to her. Water is an unpredictable element and during a shooting session many adverse events can occur. The night light can suddenly change. The wind can blow and ruffle the water. Although there is a lot of preparation involved in the process (from sketching down ideas to finding the right props and rehearsing with the models), Rogers‘ art is the outcome of a delicately perfect balance between  planning in detail and being ready to make the best out of the many unpredictable aspects of shooting at night what happens underwater. Outside of a swimming pool she combines the two apparently opposite aspects of the process and always manages to magically transform her rough materials into visually lush explosions of dramatic energy.  Reckless_0133_Reckless Unbound

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Thanks to a first-rate artistic awareness and an outstanding craftsmanship (enthusiastically pursued with years of practice, trials and errors), Christy Lee Rogers has invented a totally new and original photographic language, where no digital trickery is either needed or wanted to deliver the (im)perfect beauty of life.

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Water is commonly perceived as a positive symbol standing for the origin of life but at the same time it evokes the impossibility of breathing in it. Experiencing the underwater space can be beautifully soothing but also mysteriously dangerous, thus being a perfect metaphor for the contradictions of life and the opposite poles (good and bad) around which human existence revolves. Rogers‘ bodies are captured with such a degree of barely contained tension that it makes difficult to decide whether they are joyously realising their sensual energies or rather trying to free themselves from unknowable dark forces holding them down. They are imbued by the same vibrant tension exhaled by Michelangelo’s Slaves in their attempt to free themselves from the dead stone. Stone for Michelangelo and water for Rogers, the materials could hardly be more different. But the Renaissance master and this contemporary master of photography share a deep and compassionate insight into human nature. Elan_cirque sous-marin_web

Reckless_From the SkyThere is art you can enjoy, art that shocks you, art that you can rationally understand, art that you can appreciate for the technical mastery it displays and art that you simply find pleasant. But then there is a special kind of art that has something so self-sufficiently magic that you are totally bewitched by it. As an artist, Christy Lee Rogers is a benign witch casting a visual spell the secret ingredients of which are her original intuition, her refined craftsmanship, her artistic instinct and  her deep understanding of human nature, all blending together in a flawless universe of sensual and vivid beauty. Rogers_0184_The Triumphants

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To have an insight into the process behind Christy Lee Rogers’ underwater photography, see this behind-the-scenes video:

To plunge completely into her underwater universe visit her website, here

Thank you to Christy Lee Rogers for the images and for her incredibly inspiring art.

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Livres en Vie by Jean Marc Godès

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It is not uncommon for art lovers to be also book lovers. This makes artist Jean Marc Godès, who devotes his practice to books, a favourite of mine. With his evocative photographic mises en scène Godès celebrates books not as mere objects but as lively entities organically interacting with the world. His series of poetic images is called Livres en vie (Living Books).

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dryingBorn in Guadalupe but citizen of the world, Godès has focused on the universe of books as a form of homage to both his father – who was a writer – and poet Jacques Prévert. He describes himself as ‘director of still images’. In fact, each scene depicting the living books in action is carefully staged before taking the picture so that no photo-manipulation is involved in the final result. The artist’s tireless work is inspired by the passionate belief in the power of books intended as living organism carrying personal and collective histories.

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waiting meditatingLivres en vie offers us Godès’ many imaginative answers to the question ‘what a book can be and do’…

Books challenge and push us:

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Books hook us:

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Books urge us to slow down against the contemporary myth of a fast-paced life:

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Books uplift our lives while keeping us grounded:

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Books are powerful tools of freedom….escape…because they open up unforeseen new horizons…horizons1

new horizonsnew horizonsa…thus becoming the bricks forming our inner personal paths…bricks new path

bricks…the necessary equipment for our variously adventurous existences…equipment

…and the vital oxygen for imagination. hoxygen1

hoxygenAll of Godès’ mises en scène are pervaded by a sort of magic realism. His photo-poetic celebration of books calls for interpretation. At times they trigger the need to ‘decode’ the situation behind them. shoes

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Other times, they work as the starting point for imaginative associations. And when art meets books, it should not come as surprise if a specific book come to mind. So, the mouse protagonist of some of Godès‘s images reminded me of Firmin, the rat whose life writer Sam Savage has recounted in the eponymous book. Just like for Firmin books became the very things keeping him alive, Godès little mouse can rely on books as shelter, lifesaving tool and ideal nourishment.mouse2mouse3mouse1

To explore more of Jean Marc Godès‘ poetic homages to books, please visit his website here.

All images ©Jean Marc Godès courtesy of the artist

(via Memo Grandi Magazzini Culturali)

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Rafael Mantesso and Jimmy Choo – An inspiring friendship

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Dogs are incredibly inspiring creatures. Brazilian illustrator and designer Rafael Mantesso knows it well. Left in an unfurnished house after a divorce, Mantesso had only his dog Jimmy Choo (a bull terrier named by his ex after the fashion designer) to keep him company and bring up his morale. With clever and witty humour, Mantesso has started to use the white walls as the background for Jimmy Choo’s quirky performances. He draws various backdrops with a black marker on white cardboard. The scene is completed by the hilarious presence of Jimmy Choo who poses in disguise with funnily tender result. Mantesso swears that Jimmy Choo enjoyed all of it. And we enjoy it all as well…

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M.Funk – Sensory Photography

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In looking at M.Funk pictures a whole range of emotional responses is awaken. His images have a strong suggestive power that affects different sensorial fields.

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M.Funk‘s pictures all share an intimate tone that results as much from the framing as from the captured subjects. The artist seems to observe his surroundings with a discreet and humble eye and yet with a strongly aware presence. Continue reading

The Playhouses of Our Grandparents – Nicholas Henry

The Playhouses of Our Grandparents by Nicholas Henry is more than the photographic project consisting of 400 portraits gathered in the book with the same title. It is an extraordinary life experience, which the artist undertook a few years ago and which led him in 40 countries. nicolashenry0012

Reminiscent of his childhood, when his grandparents thought him the link between a playhouse and the importance of storytelling, Henry embarked in a journey that has been not only geographical but also existential. In fact, in each country he visited, he invited people to freely create a theatrical playhouse, while sharing stories with the community. ‘Inside everyone of us, lies the youthful spirit of a child, who revels in creating, with everyday items around him, a world invented entirely by his imagination’ Henry declares in the preface of the book.  nicolashenry0028

Every time, in South Africa as much as in Chile, in Japan as much as in Chile and everywhere else, the simple photo-shoot had evolved into a theatre thanks to the storytelling activities of the members of the community. nicolashenry0014Poemsnicolashenry0016nicolashenry0011

From the Aboriginal in Australia, trying to preserve the legacy of their ancient knowledge to the power of literature discovered by a Japanese woman after the Second World War, passing through the holy harmony that Jordan desert can teach you, Nicholas Henry expresses the sense of the project in these words: ‘The Playhouse gradually became a vehicle for freedom of speech, a setting where memories, revelations and the joy of sharing reigned’Growingnicolashenry0026nicolashenry0023

Art is often analyzed either through the intention of the artist or through the reactions it triggers in the viewer, the best case scenario being the two coincide. But The Playhouses of Our Grandparents defies this binary logic. In fact, if we – as viewer – are captured by the ethos of this journey, the portraits also activate our own personal imagination and invite us to listen to our own stories, the ones that this universe of colours, tools, places and faces can evoke. nicolashenry0021

To know more about Nicholas Henry‘s The Playhouses of Our Grandparents please see here and visit all the pages of the website. You can buy the book here.

Images courtesy of Nicholas Henry

Autumn, time of Leaves

Last year, roughly at this time, I collected some of the beautiful leaves that literally cover my path back home. Surely, I had in mind to create something with them, which I never did at the end. Luckily, and certainly with a million time better results that I could have gained, some artists don’t give up and create inspiring pieces out of this beautiful medium…

(suggested soundtrack: November by Azure Ray, here)

WALTER MASON

A land artist, Walter Mason has created a series of works and installations inspired by the seasons. Here some from his Fall intervention in and with nature:mmason
For more of Walter Mason exciting pieces of land art visit his Flickr page here. (via My Modern Metropolis)

RACHEL SOKAL

Rachel Sokal practices an alternative form of photography. The works are chlorophyll prints, with no photoshop involved. Sokal places a photo printed onto clear acetate on top of a leaf. The acetate image creates a protective filter while time and sunlight make the rest: 

Rachel Sokal works with many forms of photography. Check her website here.

MEHDI MOEENI

Illustrator Mehdi Moeeni has created lovely images of animals, shaped with leaves. They are so simple and yet so unique: 

(via Design Swan)

The Flying Houses of Laurent Chehere’s playful imagination

Sometimes art is so utterly powerful that it makes it difficult to convey with words the immediacy with which it hits you. It is as if in a fraction of a second hundreds of memories, fantasies, feelings and connections were simultaneously activated. So it is for me with the series Flying Houses by French photographer Laurent Chehere.

(recommended soundtrack: Les yeux de ton père by Les Négresses Vertes, here).A house floats on a grey sky surrounded by a flock of birds and in my mind I have Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, because that’s how her adventures started. It has been my first favourite book ever. I still cherish the sense of wonder in looking at the floating house from my copy of the book. And from that little personal association a Pandora’s vase is disclosed. In Chehere‘s houses and buildings floating in the sky one can easily recognize the typical architecture of Paris. Narrow buildings, mainly in light colours, with the characteristic wrought iron balconies. Some of them appears run-down. Almost all of them are decorated (or vandalised) with murals and graffiti. Laurent Chehere‘s inspiration comes from the architecture of Paris, especially the variegated one of the 19th and 20th arrondissements. But once he has captured the buildings with his camera, it is just the beginning for the meanderings of his imagination. With a masterful process of photo-manipulation, the French photographer transports these real architectures in the sky. He metaphorically elevates them in a weightless fantastic world. Though they can conjure up a certain fairy-tale atmosphere, these Flying Houses retain the traces of their grounded life. People inhabit them, their colourful clothes hanging on the roofs and balconies, satellite dishes transmitting the signal to their flats inside. These house ooze everyday life, even when they carry the signs of their imminent demolition. If there is one image with which I would describe my impression of Paris, that would be exactly one of its buildings. They give to the city its uniquely recognizable identity. In Paris I used to walk with my nose up, looking high to the roofs and mimicking inside my head Meg Ryan’s version of I love Paris in the lovely French Kiss (which in the Italian dubbed version oddly became ‘I hate Paris’s roofs). Very few buildings do not lend their walls to some amazing or amusing murals. The way walls offer themselves without any friction to street art is surprisingly natural and harmonic. It seems as if they eagerly and proudly accept the sings of the new times. A Paris’s contemporary postcard could be Serge Gainsbourg portrayed in 2011 on a cream-coloured building (with oblique roof) in a paste-up by Jef Areosol.But Laurent Chehere‘s series is not a mawkish idyllic celebration of Paris. The aliveness of his images bears witness of the unresolved complexities inherent not only to the city, but to contemporary life as such. With indisputable poetic spirit, he captures dereliction, misery and violence as well. These houses float not because they are elevated to a delusional idyllic state. Inspired by Paris’s all too concrete materiality, Chahere‘s imagination transposes them in the sky, where they are Paris and the all world altogether, in a magical balance between specific and universal, the real physicality and the reality of imaginative language. It is in this way that reality opens up an invisible world of emotions and fantasies, uniquely personal for each of us. In the words of Edgar Degas: ‘Art is not what you see but what you make others to see’Laurent Chehere‘s Flying Houses are on show in Paris until December 8th at Paris-Beijing  Galerie.

All images courtesy of Laurent Chehere