ILLUMINATION and VANITAS
ILLUMINATION and VANITAS
Sohn Fine Art Gallery presents two exhibitions, ILLUMINATION and VANITAS, both running August 12 – September 25, with one Reception, Saturday, August 20, from 4:00 – 7:00pm at the gallery in Lenox, MA.
John Atchley’s, ILLUMINATION, features photography re-explored through light, abstraction, and alternative materials and processes such as gold leaf, fabric and mixed media in the Main Gallery. Atchley’s abstract work challenges our popular view of photography as an objective image of reality by reasserting its constructed nature. This non-representational photography lives between material reality and photographic illusion—fact and fiction—first and second natures.
Atchley graduated from Yale with a Master’s Degree in photography in 1972. When he began his Master’s at Yale there was not a Photography department. In 1970 they decided to accept four photography students, one of which was Atchley. Walker Evans was associated with the program as well as guest artists like Robert Frank and Ansel Adams (one of Atchley’s role models at the time along with Eliot Porter, Minor White and Paul Caponigro). The program continues today as one of the most prestigious universities for photography with Gregory Crewdson as the Director of Graduate Studies and nine students per year.
Lake Michigan #12 | ©John Atchley
After Yale, Atchley set aside the camera for nearly forty years. By that time the digital revolution was well underway and he embraced it in all of its forms, so glad to leave the darkroom behind. His initial interest in the medium was born from a love of nature. Atchley started to see that the same subjects he had started with could be reinterpreted in ways that really made sense to him - intentional camera movement, out of focus images, long exposures, camera apps, all giving him incredible choices as to how he presented the world as it appeared to him. While most of his photography still happens in the outdoors, he often focuses on color forms, the lights and darks, the subtle gradations, the overall “feel” of a scene, or what he calls “distillations”, breaking the composition down into its basic elements. Atchley sees beyond the obvious details of a scene and interprets them into fluid abstractions and alternative process-like textures that embody the spirit of place and evoke the artist’s sense of connectivity between mind and nature. Often compared to Rothko and Yves Klein, he has the ability to detach and abstract the visible from the real. Ultimately, Atchley is a photographer because he feels that he has something to say about the way he sees the world. His abstracts are suggestive of landscape but lend themselves to contemplation and reflection. The consistent pull between light and darkness, line and color, emotion and reality, environment and dream, give his work a distinctive grasp of nature on a deeper level. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” -Elliott Erwitt
Atchley has been featured in almost 50 exhibitions since he re-emerged as a photographer in 2010. In 2015, he received the Martha Boschen Porter Fund Grant from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation and has received many accolades including twice winning the Epson Pano Awards Four “Bronze” Awards, placing in the NYC4 PA “Rural Impressions” Award and FIER Institute “Romantic Landscape” Award. His work is widely collected by private collectors and is in the permanent collection of the Polaroid Corporation.
A contemporary view on 17th century still life paintings from the Netherlands and France, VANITAS re-explores beauty and decay, life and death, through modern issues with photography. A departure from the traditional still life with fresh flowers, decadent objects and ripe fruit, the “Vanitas” still-lives represented objects symbolic of the meaningless pursuit of earthly goods (“vanity”), or reminders that every living thing is impermanent and transient.
From rotten fruit and wilted flowers to junk food, dead birds and bullets - 8 artists present unique, modern-day interpretations of the traditional themes. French-born and New York based, Anne Mourier’s work investigates the impact that time and memories can have on our lives and our planet. Her photograph of a fresh bouquet of flowers next to a spinning globe of the earth has permanence to it, but just below is the same photographed bouquet, decaying on a table over the course of the exhibition. Steven Duede deals with subjects that are in a transitory state. His photographs of composted organic materials from his Evanescence series are beautiful, chaotic and degraded. He explores the mechanics of transition through time, neglect and natural decomposition. He currently serves as a corporator to the board of directors with the Griffin Museum of Photography and has been included in the Danforth Museum of Art, Griffin Museum of Photography, DeCordova Museum and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, to name a few. Allan Markman walks around New York City collecting, then arranging objects tiny and abandoned, organic and inert, overlooked, unseen and discarded. His still-lives create new worlds that include carefully curated color palettes of items like metal shards, roadside detritus, rusty bolts and seasonal offerings of buds, berries, flowers and leaves. Markman is the author of the book “Door Jams: Amazing Doors of New York City”. Currently featured in the August issue of the Artful Mind Magazine, local Berkshire artist Eric Korenman’s fine art work explores how abundance and decadence in our culture shapes us through the use of massed objects. In “Cherries and Casings” he asks the viewer to examine the abundance and ease of access to arms in our culture, “As easy as pulling a cherry from a footed bowl”. 50% of proceeds from sales of his piece will be donated to a fund to better control gun policies. A play on classic Dutch still-lives, Stephanie Blumenthal and Kevin Sprague use dramatic light, combining vibrant flowers and fruits with “food” of our times. From Chinese Take-out and glass goblets of blue koolaid to fast, and junk food like pop tarts, hot dogs and potato chips, the images are both tantalizing and disagreeable. Dealing in the beauty of death, Cecilia Schmidt presents preserved, deceased, and quite beautiful, birds embellished with flora from the very trees they lived with. Marsden Epworth gives us a visual play on words to make her concepts come to life. “Stem Cell Transplant” is a transferred stem to egg, while the “Great Escape” breaks the chicken before the egg query down to its fundamental parts.
ABOUT SOHN FINE ART GALLERY
Sohn Fine Art was founded in 2011, by photographer, Cassandra Sohn. The Gallery specializes in showing primarily contemporary photography and is dedicated to the development, promotion and exhibition of innovative contemporary artworks by international and local artists. Sohn Fine Art exhibits Sohn's work and represents emerging and living artists. It is the company's mission to promote broader understanding of, and community engagement with photographic mediums through exhibitions, lectures and workshops. Sohn Fine Art's MASTER ARTIST SERIES Program hosts world class photographers in the Berkshires annually. The goal of this program is to offer unique experiences with artists in the top of their fields to patrons and collectors of photography, as well as professional and aspiring photographers and artists.