Blurring the lines

Posted on 08 May 2009 at 12:40am
By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer

Gay photographer Alex Remington uses his painterly images to provoke his audience

PICTURE PERFECT
Remington’s work is featured in two local spaces: The "Ethereality" exhibition is at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Through May 31. Free. The "In the Know" benefit and silent auction will be held at Dallas Contemporary, 2801 Swiss Ave. May 8. $25–$35.



Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice

Although Alex Remington has been an avid photographer for 10 years, it has been less than two that he has been selling, exhibiting and making his living with his work. For most of that time, he didn’t really think of his work as commercial at all.

"I would show them to friends and they’d say, ‘You did this?’ I couldn’t tell if they were any good until people starting offering to buy them," he says.
That’s when he decided to share his work.

"Share" is a word that comes up a lot when Remington talks about his pieces: Sharing his ideas with other people and asking them to share with him. He’s a thoughtful, modest man with model-good-looks — tall, fit, slightly graying at the temples — the kind you might expect to be obsessed with conventional beauty.

But in fact, Remington’s repertoire boasts a few architectural shots, some landscapes and no portraits. His eye looks elsewhere than traditional glamour for its inspiration.

"I want my images to have a surreal quality," he says.

That they have, often with the most ordinary of objects — a tree trunk, branches, water droplets, flowers, even the moon — appearing moody and ethereal… hence the name of his 27-piece exhibit at the Cathedral of Hope through the end of May, "Ethereality."

Remington is also one of the featured artists at "In the Know," a party and silent auction for Mental Health America on May 8 at the Dallas Contemporary. (Ted Kincaid, another gay Dallas artist who works in digital photography, also has a piece at the event.)

Remington classifies his photographs into two general categories: those that are highly manipulated and those that are essentially authentic. But even the authentic ones capture his vision in specific ways.

"One of my goals is to take ordinary objects and give them an artful edge," he says. "Unimportant things I like to emphasize. I like art that’s unexpected."

Many of the works at the Cathedral, for instance, are of trees: often the foreground is a strong, stable oak, with the branches in the background sway in the wind. That gives the picture three-dimensional layers in a two-dimensional space, but also a woozy, dreamlike feeling.

Some of Remington’s effects are created "in the camera" — long "bulb exposures," where the aperture of his camera remains open for up to two minutes. Others are the result of post-shot manipulation, such as bleeding the colors out of a series of orchids, transforming the image from its original vibrant yellows, reds and oranges into a stark, icy silver that looks more like glass sculpture than delicate flower. All of which is part of his greater aesthetic.

"I like it when people question what the subject matter is and see different things when they look at it. All art should provoke thought," he says. He points to a photo-mosaic he created from a single shot of dried roses as one that disorients many viewers. Although the two works weren’t meant to be coupled, Remington found it made more sense to move both prints closer and closer so that the connection would be clearer.

Not that he wants it to be clear all the time. Remington points to a particularly abstract photo which seems to be a horizontal blur. In reality, it’s a close up of the contours of a vase, turner on its side. But even the less abstract pieces have a painterly quality to them, one of the boons of the digital age.

"I like to blur the lines between painting and photography, between one idea and other," he says.

And between that blurriness emerges a precise and disciplined aesthetic.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 8, 2009.

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