The term painterly in Art refers to a style that embraces, celebrates and elevates both the medium and the act of creation. It is an expressive approach, where process is liberally visible rather than restrained or rational.
How does this all translate to photography though? Could the photographic medium be accommodating enough to foster painterly qualities? When guided by an instinctive love of material and fascination with technique it is then that photography transcends into a state of evolution.
Christopher Colville challenges both his chosen medium and the notions of traditional photography by refining the process of image making.
The Dark Hours is a body of work made without a camera. It is a collective of speculative, or perhaps better described as imagined landscapes, all unique and one of-a-kind artefacts. He reflects on his natural surroundings and desert landscapes of his home in Phoenix, Arizona. The work production is tied to the cycles of the moon. By working outside at night two weeks of the month, when the moon is low in sky or dim enough not to expose his gelatine silver paper, he exposes photographic paper and ignites varying combinations of gunpowder directly onto its surface.
With the use of metal, wood and physical structures he directs the blast. These objects shield parts of the paper while other portions are allowed to be exposed to light, heat and fire. The photographic paper is then tray-developed like any traditional gelatin silver print. The resulting image is a combination of exposed silver paper with burn marks and abrasion on its surface.
This abstract representation of landscape conveys a strong sense of space. It is that precise desert landscape that becomes the medium itself. The natural elements, the darkness of the universe and the sparse light of the stars. Process plays an integral role; however, its concept is more suggested than clearly stated. A representation in a state of flux, liberated from stagnated interpretation, one that invites the viewer to imagine.
In an age of image plethora and digital advancement, it is surprisingly refreshing to be confronted with work that has the ability to slow time. To push the photographic medium and its symbolic limitations without compromising its quality. It is image making, both serendipitous and elemental. Created with spontaneity, generated from a single spark. A fine example of painterly photography!
All images: ©Christopher Colville