The series Flowers was produced over four days during the month of July 2015, one day during the month of August 2015, and generated 167 photographs, from which the final selection of 109 was culled.


The process consisted of creating a handmade filter through which the camera photographed its subject. Initial tests involved both a DSLR and an iPhone 6. The results generated by the iPhone were considerable and impressive. Based upon these initial tests, and for ease of use and speed, an iPhone was chosen.


This series is an exploration of dialogues. Pictorially it creates a dialogue between representational and non-representational (figurative and abstract) art. It expands the dialogue that has ensued for over a century between painting and photography. Conceptually it explores the dialogue between a formulated approach and chance opportunity. Because this series realizes these dialogues, these polarities of opposition, it, therefore, embodies their inherent contradictions. These contradictions, in part, are manifest in the process of creating each image.


Three distinct planes need to align to create a single, unified, but heterogeneous image. There is the subject itself, in this case, flowers, the handmade filter, and the camera. Affecting each of these is light, which is equally as important, for in this context light is also color. Using a piece of glass as canvas, transparent gel as paint, and utilizing a paintbrush, a unique handmade filter is created that embodies the gestural nature of painting. Because this filter is made using a gel, it is not permanent, and can repeatedly, for each image, be created anew. This unique filter is then positioned between the camera and flowers. Both the filter and the camera are then moved at varying distances and angles from one another, as well as from the flowers. It is once these elements fall into place, the proper distances and angles found, and the light illuminates the subject in such a way to cause the colors to transcend the everyday, that the final image can be taken. When this transpires, it is a chance moment and unpredictable, which means that the final image will also be unknown. The function of light for this process needs elaboration. Light permeates and affects each of these levels, and it is the light that is the factor that allows these three levels to be brought together and forged into a single unified image. If the light doesn’t properly affect these three planes, it will reflect off the filter, and the image will be lost, or it won’t transform the vibrancy of the flower, and the final image will be muted and layered. But when each of the planes line up, and the light affects each as it should, then the colors of the flowers not only transcend with intensity as they permeate the gestural brushstrokes of the gel, but it causes the planes to collapse into one, and it is here that the final image manifests.


The subject matter of flowers was chosen because of its traditional place in history for both painting and photography. In this case, the series then is also a dialogue between traditionalism and modernism in both its use of subject matter and artistic approach.


When viewing the final images of this series, the immediate correlation is to the paintings found in the school of impressionism, and an argument could be presented that these images are indeed paintings. A connection can be made to others series of mine, namely 31 Details From A Photograph, and the reflection photographs found in The Surface Of The World. In these cases, the connection between these three series is how the images appear like paintings, either abstract or impressionistic and how, in their way, they are experiments to create paintings. If you remove the notion that to create a painting one must use paint (much the way Gerhard Richter insisted of his early photorealistic paintings that if you remove the notion that you need a camera to produce photographs, then his paintings are photographs), then these images are paintings.


At the same time, they are not paintings, they are photographs. It is as though one reality is glimpsed through the partially revealing, partially obscuring impression of another. It is two realities occupying the same space.


Because of the gestural nature of the painted gel and the subject matter of flowers, the final images have about them the sense of something familiar while still maintaining the quality of the unique. A piece of art should never lead to only one conclusion. Art should open questions, and these questions are more important than the defining and categorizing of the art.


The following are a few images from the series.

All Copyright Michael P. Toussaint 2017