Is there such a thing as abstract photography? Is it possible to capture the atmosphere of a place? On a recent visit to the Cornish coast I set myself a challenge - to try and record the quality of light; the same light that brought so many artists to the fishing village of St Ives since the middle of the 19th Century... This has turned into an ongoing series and the challenge to attmpt to capture light has become a preocupation.
With the horizon as my starting point, I started shooting throughout the day, and was very aware how quickly the light conditions change, from minute to minute. Using the sea and the sky as the focus meant there was a blank canvas for the light and elements to play on. With mist drifting in and out, drizzle turning to rain and then clearing, afternoon turning to dusk, and then to the deep blues and blacks of the night; the view before me changed from second to second.
There is a calmness to the final images, with the depth of fog or rain causing a blurred demarkation between the sea and the sky, with one drifting into to other, without clarity. They became more tonal compositions rather than images of things, like Rothko’s late work or the black paintings created by some of the Abstract Impressionists in the 50s (hausderkunst). The images are also redolent of the work of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, which I have since discovered, thanks to Vincent Keith. Coincidently, the link between his work and Rothko’s Black painting has already been explored at the Pace Gallery in 2012. Sugimoto’s work is black and white and epic in scale, where as the photos presented here and more intimate and in colour. The more you look at some of the work, the more hues and tones you see. Slowly the eye makes out rich greens, inky blues, and steely slate greys. Black, it seems, is very rarely simply black...
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