At world's end, between photography and painting
Jul 06, 2011
Orit Drori and Susanna Terra, a photographer and a painter, embarked on an artistic adventure that gave birth to the exhibition "The City, Fragments and Shadows" at Bangkok's Koi Art Gallery.
"Everything was a discovery: it started with a picture, which was real for us, in that moment - though photography truly isn't. Then painting and its white paper took over, and the work unfolded," Drori said.
The result is a world of colours and images that make love on a crisp surface of cardboard, newspapers and canvas, giving material identity to the superimposition of surfaces and realities.
In a unique marriage of distinctive artistic media, the physical and material found in a photograph fade away and the observer is left stranded on another metaphysical dimension.
Drori explained: "Our works are poetic moments, almost literary, that teeter towards painting. If the basis is the photograph, our works enter a new dimension in the studio, with the paint."
The absinth green thus melts with wonder but no surprise in the cerulean grey of the skies of Bangkok, in an instant of reflection and detachment reminiscent of that researched by the French poetes maudits - leaving a trail of emotions behind.
"We looked for a third language: it has been a wonderful adventure, filled with literary works, of prose and poetry. Susanna has introduced me to poetry. She has ushered me into a new world and, together, our worlds have created these images, these sensations.
"Photography and painting have shaped something that tastes the unreal; this is what makes our art magic," said Drori about her colleague and their journey together.
Started as a gift to one another, their collaboration blossomed out of a deep friendship, with Thailand as its stage.
Both rooted in Italy, Terra and Drori arrived in Asia a long time ago and shared the common experience of living in Chiang Mai as long-term guests.
Drori said: "Susanna and I know the city as citizens of the city, as Thai citizens. There is a great love towards Thailand, because we know both its beauty and its shadows."
As the title of the exhibition alludes, the two artists tell stories of urban solitude in a city visually inspired by Thailand which maintains universality despite, and because of, its partiality.
Drori explained: "Photography is made of fragments: in uniting photography and painting we are still left with the reality of having fragments of something much bigger.
"The city can be told in many ways, from an architectural perspective, but also from a human story found in the city. Susanna and I decided to look at the city as impact and fragments, to look at what it hides and remains hidden in it, to look into the urban imaginary from our imagination."
The exhibition's series of rooms - The Room with Senses, The Room of Sorrow, The Room of Memories, The Room with the Empty Chair, to name but a few - grasps the deafening eternity of human emotions in the purity of individual solitude.
As the photographer Drori put it: "In some and any moment of life, each of us lives in the shadow of the city. In the shadows we are anonymous, we live behind anonymous windows, and thus become shadows. There is solitude in every city, and we are part of it.
"These solitudes, however, are moments when each of us is with himself; for this reason, they are precious moments, those that make us grow, though they are hardly easy."
Each room pays homage to a state of mind drawn from the collective imagination through peculiar brushstrokes of opposites, yellow and purple, green and red.
As drops of ink in water, the colour defines the presence of a state of mind, thus given with purity and immediacy because of an absence of realistic descriptive limitations.
Where no illustrative definition is to be found, the allusion to animals and people is therefore an emotional illusion, it has more to do with oneiric and childhood memories than reality.
As Drori observed: "We hope it will inspire moments of reflection on the human condition: ours is a time of great changes - to see, to be conscious of, to go along with.
"Modernity is pushing mankind on stranger tides and this is happening at an extreme pace: it is a novelty that can create even more solitude."
As social photographer, she has documented forgotten existences since the 1980s and her latest work reflects her attempts to give a voice to forgotten and unknown realities and people.
The City, Fragments and Shadows represents another occasion to celebrate the cultural heritages of both Thailand and Italy, which this year celebrated the 150th anniversary of unification.
"My work belongs to the West," Drori noted. "The art in Thailand remains fundamentally religious art, but this is changing. There are new, interesting attempts to follow new paths.
"In Italy this change occurred long ago, but we have probably forgotten our artistic traditions, which mean great techniques - something that fortunately remain strong in Thai art."
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