For this series, Daniel Gordon creates three-dimensional sculptures made from collages of images appropriated from magazines and the internet before photographing these with a large format camera. The inspiration for these works comes from Modernist artists such as Picasso, Dalí, Matisse and Cézanne. The resulting images are deliberately crude and unpolished, even lurid and grotesque – the antithesis of polished digital composites that strive towards seamless perfection. In an article on the Lens Culture site, Gordon states: “I’m interested in showing my hand and letting people see the imperfection”.
Brad Feuerhelm describes ‘Still Lifes, Portraits and Body Parts’ as:
“dysfunctional photo-cubism…intricate Internet print outs blown up and reworked physically into a series of horrific body dysmorphias…that abound with metaphors pertaining to over-production and post-consumerist fallout. The result is a series of harrowing and perversely warped-Frankensteins.”
In ‘Photography is Magic’ by Charlotte Cotton, Gordon offers this artists statement about his work:
“I make my pictures alone in my studio, but I view my work as a peculiar collaboration between myself and what I’ve chosen as my material: images found on the Internet that I print and construct into a three-dimensional tableau, which is ultimately photographed. This process presents limitations as well as unexpected directions, and it is in this way that I don’t anticipate a picture’s meaning or formal qualities before I begin to make it. Instead, I let the criteria of the process guide the subject matter, discovering what the work is about as it comes to life. So…I’d say that even if the imagery I’m attempting to depict is taken from my life experience, the process of making allows for a kind of improvisation that often takes the construction to a fictional place. As far as narrative is concerned, I’m more interested in creating a mood or playing with a particular theme than I am in creating a story. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to meaning can be made not only in each particular image, but in the space between them – I think that’s where the strongest indication of a narrative is in my work.”
Until I read this I was struggling to make sense of Gordon’s work which seemed little more than abstractions. The first thing I admire here is the way Gordon uses experimentation or “improvisation” to create the work and the fact he is more concerned with mood and themes rather than narrative – something that probably explains why I found it difficult to find a way ‘into’ the work. The way the work foregrounds artifice and its hand made nature is also something that appeals to me – the rough and ready appearance has an immediate, visceral quality that can often be lacking in work that is overly polished.
Cotton, C. (2015) Photography is Magic. New York: Aperture
Feuerhelm, B. (N.D.) Daniel Gordon: Still Lifes, Portraits & Parts. 1000 Words. Available at: http://www.1000wordsmag.com/daniel-gordon/ [accessed 6th May 2019]