Sunday, 15 April 2012

Still Life - Josef Sudek

I wanted this to be a brief write up on some of my latest findings but I realised that I could not do that without explaining the current slump I have been in. I say slump, it is probably just a mixture of lack of enthusiasm combined with poor weather (which equals slump-I know). 
Today, on one of my few trips back and forth to the library lately saw me pick up a Josef Sudek book entitled ‘Still Lives’. Sudek a photographer I am fairly familiar with over the years by looking through his books with no focused aim, however this time around it was different. 
When, during the war, I used to look at my window and photograph it, I often discovered that something was happening on the ledge. That became increasingly important to me. Some object, flowers, a little stone, anything that evoked the idea of separating out these still lifes and making them into independent photographs. I think that photography delights in ordinary things. And I delight in the life of things. - Josef Sudek in an interview with Anna Farova, 1976.
This interview of Josef Sudek was taken from the beginning of ‘Regarding What Goes Beyond’ an essay by Jan Marius Tomes. It highlights that it was the wars doing that brought Sudek into the line of Still Life works.
The reason that I wanted to look in to Still Life photography was whilst I have been casually brainstorming ideas to work with my current work with portraits of people and couples I have also been shooting a separate body of work to tie in nicely with the portraits. 
To date the way it has spanned out, the work has looked at hanging plates, flowers, shrubs and busy natural landscapes. I have been hunting and hunting within these moments to seek some kind of symbolism to work with my ideas and themes. 
Still life photographs can be something so excellent, that is everyday, that is things you often miss during your daily routine, and it can also be something you stage. Like, how you stage your cup of tea next to your plate of toast, or a flower vase next to the window. There is a lot of paths working with still life, and what I want to get out of it is experimentations that work with a theme of emotions, connections, relationships, power, growth, life, death - and with that comes the research.
Josef Sudek’s The Last Rose, 1956 was the photograph that I focused in on first. A busy photograph when you think about it, but it’s main character is the glass of water filled with three roses, its back drop, a condensed window with rain present on the other side. The dark space on around the window, not evenly square is perfect. It sucks you in, and allows you to enter this quiet space. 
I then noticed a few more similar photographs dealing with flowers in water filled glasses and immediately liked what I saw. For these still life photographs I am also drawing inspiration from paintings, we shall see the results soon hopefully. 

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