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  • Writer's pictureEllen Fisch

The Art of Architectural Photography: Funny How Life Is- Abstracts

Funny how life is. Sometimes, after a long journey I arrive back at the beginning.

Greenwich Village in the late 60s and 70s was a Mecca for artists, who were pushing the boundaries of traditional painting. Although "modern art" or abstracts had been evolving for some time, during the time (1968-72) I spent at NYU getting my Masters, there was a distinct emphasis on building upon traditional art to find "new" avenues of expression. In other words, then I diverted from recreating a likeness of the subject and began to focus on unique aspects of the subject and how they could be combined, reverting to my childhood explorations in art: light, tonality, composition, hue, form. I continued on my new path, working on large abstractions at the Art Students League. There, I developed a technique in oils that mimicked my fascination with the watercolors I had painted with for years. Oils as watercolors can inherently abstract as the mediums are so distinctly disparate, in my frame of reference.

Around this time, I also was a structural draftsman and a photographer of a variety of subjects, such as architecture, art, landscape. In both of drafting and photography clarity, exactitude, perfect execution and the like were and may still be (especially in drafting!) essential to the final outcome. Wavy lines on a blueprint or soft areas in a photograph were considered sloppy work at best. It was an interesting juxtaposition: my painting style was extremely lose and my photography/architectural drawing tight. However, my dissimilar artistic endeavors helped me to learn that focus, literal and figurative, is critical when creating.

Ultimately, I returned to representational painting and continued to create sharp photographs and clean and literal architectural drawings. I was comfortable working in this way. For a number of years. However, sometimes comfort does not promote growth or improvement. Along the way, I began to feel that my art was becoming formulaic. I was repeating myself in my work, which for some may be desirable but not for me. For me, self expression always involved learning, advancing, incorporating new ideas. My creativity was slowing down, even though I was working harder and producing more than ever before. However, I did not quite know how to fix it: my elusive aesthetic.

Then, quite by chance, as is often opportune, two things changed my perspective entirely. Changed me. I traveled to India, a place like no other I had experienced. India exposed me to art forms that I could never have imagined and of course invigorated my aesthetic energy. I fell in love with the fabulous designs, the fairy-tale architecture and the beauty of the landscape in India. The people of India, I discovered, not only added to India's extraordinary allure but in actuality encompass the allure itself. The second monumental eye opener for me was when I mistakenly yet fortuitously abstracted a photograph in post-production. This distortion led me to abstract other photographs, which in turn presented an entirely distinct opportunity to explore my art. The abstractions I am currently working on have much the same orientation as traditional photography/art. They simply offer form, composition, values et. al. from a different angle. It seems like abstracting has also honed my understanding of more traditional ways of creating representational art. Too, I am brought back to an earlier time in my life when creating abstracts seemed exciting and original. It still does!

Photography- Jagdish Temple: Udaipur, India

Echoes: Abstract Photography

Passages: Abstract Photography

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