Photography By Barrie Dale A.G.S.A

Introduction to a Spray of Flowers

Partial Explanation

As we start to emerge, painfully, from Covid, it is clear that human beings are at a turning point.  

Somewhere around the year 1900 we started to kid ourselves that we were ‘Masters of Nature’; we could do what we liked, and there would be no adverse consequences.  We now know better.  We are not even masters of the systems we set up to manage our money.  We have got to change.

If we are to prosper we have to become, once again, partners of Nature; we cannot be its masters.

Returning to Nature as our source of everyday sustenance, and also of our Art, has been a constant theme of this website.  But I realise now that I have to change as well.  My photographs have always been of Nature, but that might not have been readily apparent;  I produced many photographs of flowers or grasses in which I went to great lengths to conceal the true nature of the subject matter.  I had photographs of flowers which made them look like spaceships; or gondolas; or hummingbirds; or ships at sea; or fields leading up to mountains.  

For now on I want the subject matter of my images to be clear; but with enough abstraction to convey messages.  Looking back over my images, my most frequent message would seem to have been ’triumph over adversity’, which might seem to be very topical now. 

I want to take my cue from Cézanne.  History allowed him to stand on the shoulders of Turner, Van Gogh, and Monet.  He was thus able to express a passionate emotional involvement with Nature; but he was the last great painter to do so.  From the year 1900 onwards expressing Nature in paint was not considered a worthwhile endeavour.  Cézanne had no followers.

So what is special about Cézanne?  In many of his oil paintings he conveys the feeling that you are not simply looking at a subject; you are surrounded by it.  This draws you in, makes you feel involved. Paradoxically, he does this while insisting that a painting is two-dimensional; that it is a conceit to pretend that you can convey depth through the use of perspective; depth can be expressed through the use of colour. 

In his watercolours the approach is different.  Here he  frequently puts down just a few telling lines, or renders selected parts in great detail, leaving much un-explained.  Again this draws you in; you are being invited to complete the missing detail.

To start the new era off, and in homage to Cézanne, I am presenting a spray of ‘Phalaenopsis’ flowers which is only part explained.  I hope you would find interest in completing the spray. 

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