Inspirational, Exciting & Creative

Inspirational, Exciting & Creative!

Following last year’s great success with the visit of well renowned photojournalist, Lorenzo di Pietro, a guest of the Malta Institute of Professional Photography (MIPP),  this year, the Institute will be going one better and will be giving their members, as well as other local photographers, something really special. The MIPP’s guests in August will be international photographers Witold Flak and Chiara Fersini.

Some photographic enthusiasts should remember Polish personality Witold from a previous visit to our island. At that event, his lecture and character were a breath of fresh air and incredibly inspiring. Chiara, who hails from Italy, will be visiting Malta for the first time, and will surely leave an impression with her fantastic brand of photography.

This event is purposely linked to World Photography Day, which is celebrated on the 19th of August. What better present to give local photographers than this veritable feast of creative and inspirational photography and networking?

The scope behind this event is twofold: Firstly to nurture the ideal conditions for  MIPP members and local photographers to come together in one big event and, secondly, to enable the MIPP to bring international personalities in the photographic field so as to act as catalysts to further stimulate and widen the horizons of local photography.

To coincide with this event, Chiara and Witold will also be exhibiting their work at the Cavalieri Hotel in St Julian’s from the 18th of August till the 31st of August. The Exhibition is entitled, “Insight.”

Chiara Fersini (www.himitsuhana.com) holds a degree in English and Japanese. She investigates the intriguing inner relation between photography and painting, and takes inspiration from thePre-Raphaelite painters and the Liberty style.

She has already participated in many art exhibitions and contests; and she’s been featured in magazines such as “Advanced Photoshop, NL” and “ Fashion Capital, UK”.She has experience as a designer for storybooks, fashion and the entertainment sectors.

Her photography is a mix of art, technique and poetry. Her work is stunning and surprising. Her set of photographs, which will be exhibited in Malta, belie her young age but undoubtedly bear the stamp of a very talented and sensitive artist. Not only is her technique to a high level, but the content of her work stimulates the viewer to look deeper and explore the artist’s message. When one takes into consideration that Chiara also at times models in some of her own images, one starts to understand the talent of this Italian image maker.

In “Gravity is a lie”, Chiara creates a surrealistic mood in her image, very reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s paintings. All her works embody a process of thought, imagination, high standards of technique and post processing. But what makes her artworks a cut above the rest is that she knows how to pose and portray her subjects to pass on her pictorial message, whilst her knowledge of light and imagination further enhances the final effect.

Gravity is a lie

Gravity is a lie

In another image, “L’ audition”, Chiara creates a mood of mystery and expectation by covering the faces of most of the figures and just exposing one face, whose melancholic expression seems to convey the sometimes futile attempts of impressing a judge or selector during an audition.

L'audition

L’audition

The colour harmony and warm tones suit this dreamy image perfectly and the feather held in one of the models’ hands contrasts sharply to the impersonal numbers which all the others are holding. This leaves the image very open to the imagination and to individual interpretation.

“Portrait de l’Artiste” is a fantastic journey into classic art. The subtle, directional light coming in from the window has superbly illuminated the model’s face reflected in the oval mirror. The shy, downward glance of the model implies the uncertainty that an artist is many times faced when confronted by his blank canvas. The chiaroscuro effect, warm tones and excellent choice of props in this photograph demonstrates the heights that a photographic artist can achieve by employing his visual and mental skills to his utmost. “Teli e Toiletta” is another image which merits the same study and is in the same league as Chiara’s “Portrait de l’Artiste.”

Portrait de l'artiste

Portrait de l’artiste

“Tranquilize” is another work which invites the viewer to try and fathom and interpret the thoughts of the subject, whilst “Crushed Spirits” has obviously been inspired by Raphaelite art.

When viewing Chiara’s works, one cannot help (if he is sensitive and open enough to art), but feel mesmerized with each and every photograph his eyes rest upon.

To me, Chiara has superbly managed to take the right inspiration from past classical art and artists and further imbue her work with her own fantastic skills and creativity to take us on a journey of reflection, mystery and discovery.

In contrast to Chiara’s classical studied approach, Witold Flak’s (www.flak.pl ) work is surprising and, in many ways, an eye opener.

His work, in this exhibition, all in monochrome, bears the hallmark of someone who has a keen natural eye for a picture and of a photographer who is not tightly bogged down by technicalities and convention.

Flak loves working with people and his knack for handling his subjects regularly demonstrate an innate sensitivity and a great passion both for photography as well as for the human race.

Witold’s photographs show perception and unusual viewpoints. They bring joy, trigger passions and encourage dreams. By his own admission, Witold is no digital editing guru or technical wizard, but his passion for the art is incredibly inspiring and fresh to both professional as well as amateur photographers. His vision is like a breath of fresh air in what sometimes is becoming a claustrophobic and fictitious environment.

All of Flak’s work in the Cavalieri Hotel exhibition depicts the human subject.

His approach is more that of a benign predator who stalks his subject and coaxes out the expression, the angle and the mood in a non-intimidating manner. His subjects rarely show shyness – in fact, most of the expressions and body language demonstrate a sense of trust in the photographer taking their image. “Reflection” and “Thought” are two images which bear this out.

Thought

Thought

I think Witold excels when he is portraying the female form. Looking in depth into this attractive but difficult subject, Witold manages to actually highlight the respect and love he has for the female sex and glorifies his women in such a beautiful and sensual manner. “Here I am” and “White and Black” are two of his works which stand out.

Here I am

Here I am

In “Side by side”, in the fleeting instant of a shutter click, Witold has captured an expression that is pregnant with emotions and interpretations. The slight blur on this image adds to the mystery and questions that this photograph raises. Here Witold is again refusing to miss the crucial expression or mood of his subject, by getting entangled in obtaining the “right” technique, and his boldness has produced a very powerful journalistic image.

Side by Side

This is again brought out in image “The Unknown” where Witold’s choice of purposely not showing the face of his subject strongly emphasizes the mystery and ambiguity of his subject matter.

The Unknown

The Unknown

“Look” is a fine example where “less is more”. Flak’s clever cropping and choice of viewpoint and subject give this photograph much more impact by stimulating the imagination of the viewer. His unorthodox, unshackled way of capturing pictures uses the power of photography and its message-telling abilities to the best possible advantage.

Look!

Look!

His work is infectious, and inspires us to just pick up our cameras and go out there and capture the beauty, and maybe sometimes, the horrors of life.

The MIPP would like to thank the management of the Cavalieri Hotel for their kind help and sponsorship of this Exhibition

The Exhibition will be open from the 18th of August till the 30th of September.

 

© Kevin Casha

Master FSWPP FMIPP AMPA AMPS

Exhibition Curator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring different ways of doing art photography

I make it a practice to try and view as many art exhibitions and events as possible. I firmly believe that a creative soul can take inspiration and ideas from being sensitive to all around him. Naturally, other artist’s endeavours and offerings are a rich source of contemplation and can generally stimulate debate and spark off the imagination – things which are so vital to art evolvement.

Naturally, due to time constraints, I do not actually manage to see all the exhibitions I would like to, but then I really try to make time when the subject is photography – my passion. So I just could not fail not to go and view “Divergent Thinkers”, a collective exhibition held at St James Cavalier, in Valletta. Giola Cassar, one of my current Higher National Diploma students, was amongst the seven artists taking part – so this was a further reason for my visit.

This project was made possible through Agenzija Zaghzagh’s (Youth Agency’s) Empowerment Programme. I feel there is much to improve in governmental cultural policies, but this programme, directed at promoting and aiding art and culture amongst young people is to be lauded. As the Hon. Clyde Puli, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport, ably put it in the exhibition Catalogue’s foreword, “The contribution that young people can make through their artistic endeavours to the cultural life of the nation and its further enrichment is, I believe, immense.”

I cannot agree more with this statement. Without a fresh crop of young artists, art can become stuck in a rut and perhaps churning out a diet which might be somewhat unadventurous, gimmicky, stale and at times, downright boring.  Granted, established artists and trail blazers who have come before us are a source of constant inspiration to up and coming artists, and it is vital that those making their first steps in the art world should constantly study, absorb, and question what has come before their time. The important thing is not to become slavish and copy but to try and question, explore and give new interpretations to past work. Young artists also push established ones to greater heights and challenges.

Alas, today, despite the many opportunities and increased awareness given to young artists, the many distractions and perhaps soft, easy material life which we have now become accustomed to, is, at times, feeding a lack of drive, determination and will in our youngsters. Youth are usually very excited and interested in the art world, as they visualize it as a glittering, fashionable and desirable lifestyle, but when they realize that it can be such hard work, that it is so difficult to lift your shoulders above the rest and that, in the majority of cases, not very remunerative, most quickly fall by the wayside and unfortunately quickly abandon their dreams. Most youngsters do not realize that success and fulfilment is neither fast nor easy. An artist can only succeed if he has the passion, the drive, the determination to succeed. Unfortunately there are no easy ways.

Which brings us back to the Divergent Thinkers project.  I will only endeavour to review and comment on Giola’s photography, because most of  the other offerings at the exhibition are media and art forms which I do not consider myself conversed enough to assess. Some of the work has made me reflect, some has given me very mixed feelings, whilst some of the work did not stimulate any reaction in me. That does not mean that some art has no value. The beauty of art is that it arouses different feelings and reactions in those who view it. Art is so subjective and the culture, character, awareness, past experiences and sensitivity of the viewer will impact each and every one in a different way. Even the current state of mind of the viewer will influence his reactions. My view is that art needs to energize a reaction in those encountering it. Even a “bad reaction” is desirable to “no reaction.”

Timeless 1 by Giola Cassar

Timeless 1 by Giola Cassar

Giola’s offering in this project is four photographs which come over to us as sets of two.  The images in the sets relate well with each other but then contrast greatly between them.

Knowing Giola’s work from college, I know that she researches very extensively and, rightly so, she takes great pains in her concept and preparation. She is definitely not trigger happy. All the four works in this exhibition bear this out. She has painstakingly planned and studied her subjects and props and this track invites the viewer to do the same. One needs to take time and explore the nuances, detail and mood of her images. The time taken will not be wasted.

Timeless 2 by Giola Cassar

Timeless 2 by Giola Cassar

In her “Timeless” duo of prints, she has attempted to recreate a long gone age and succeeded quite well. The mood is definitely there. After one absorbs the fashion of that era, one is intrigued by the expressions of the “models”.  It’s a somewhat vacant, inscrutable and obscure expression which made me think. What did these two girls feel like, dressing up and “going back” in time? The plain warm, retro tones of the images complement the subjects and bring out the mood in an ideal way. Still, I guess the debate can rage here as to whether these images are documents or contemplative, records of an era or deep character studies. The answers will be as diverse as the viewers.

The other set of two prints, entitled “Internal and external vastness of Space” are in direct contrast to the “Timeless” portraits. Here Giola shows that she is still grappling as to what direction her photography will eventually take. It is the right way that at her young age she is exploring several ways of expressing herself with photography. It is a process that one should pass through, and keep passing through, in order to constantly challenge and excite him or herself. The operation is never ending.

Space 2 by Giola Cassar

Space 2 by Giola Cassar

In my view, this second set of work gives the viewer much more scope for reflection and speculation – thus it makes them more engaging due that they leave a lot of questions unanswered and camouflaged.  Giola here delves into the mysterious vastness of Space.  A subject which has intrigued and mystified all generations since time immemorial.

The girl seemingly trapped and constricted in a claustrophobic cubicle (a refrigerator?) gives us the feeling of immobility, of being eternally trapped in the little space that she has been confined to. Yet the expression is not of despair or anger but more of being resigned       to her fate.  Is not this perhaps a metaphor or allegory of the way some people feel inevitably trapped and restricted in their surroundings, their life, their Space? Technically this image could perhaps have been slightly improved through light direction, but then technique is at times less important than the message and I feel this print certainly delivers the message and creates curiosity and discussion.

Giola’s other image, my favourite in this set, is of a “ghostly” whimsical girl apparently floating in a dark and forbidding space. The high viewpoint purposely distorts perspective and makes the girl more vulnerable and helpless in such a vast and unending space.

Space 1 by Giola Cassar

Space 1 by Giola Cassar

One of the definitions of space is that Space is capable neither of resistance nor motion. I feel this concept has been brought out very well, particularly in this image. The girl’s pose offers no resistance and demonstrates her immobility when faced with the unknown and greatly unexplored vastness of her surroundings. Her gaze does not betray any emotions and further invites us to perhaps stare into the seeming nothingness of space.

I think this is a well chosen subject and concept and I do look forward to seeing more of Giola’s “struggles” with such unexplored regions of the psyche.

© Kevin Casha

 

Divergent Thinkers is open from 27th July up to 2nd September, 2012