Fine arts: the photographer’s landscape images speak of stillness
Stillness and loneliness. An increasingly deep connection between you, the viewer, and the structures that man has built, placed in our natural environment, and often abandoned. That’s what you’ll find when visiting the New Jersey photographer’s current exhibit, Aubrey Kauffman’s Pictures at the Arts Council of Princeton.
But also prepare to be surprised as you enter the Taplin Gallery exhibition where, on the wall in front of you, you will see four inkjet prints from monumental archives. With the advent of our cell phone cameras, we are used to photographs being the size of a hand. As you get closer, however, it feels like you are stepping into that gravel-strewn railroad bed, or carefully finding your way through the deep ruts that the trucks have dug in the soil of the tour of Porto from Las Vegas. You’ll feel like you’re standing in front of this sleek architectural building identified simply by a number on the side, or being stopped by the chain-link fence standing guard between you and a monstrous storage tank. White.
In these images in the exhibition, as well as in others of less monumental size, angles and shapes, light and color are the language that Kauffman uses to draw us in to see what he saw through the lens of his camera, to understand the message he wants to convey.
“Through my viewfinder, I seek to contrast and compare the interactions of natural and artificial elements,” he says in the exhibition materials. “I tend to look for landscapes that speak of a certain stillness. In the buildings and structures that I photograph, I emphasize their architectural quality in the space they exist. Geometry, shadow and light play a major role in the creation of my image.
You see all of these elements come into play in his “No Trailers” and “Blank Wall”. And you see the calm in “No Show” where empty parking spaces set the stage for the Regal Cinemas 12 theater which remains silent with no moviegoers arriving or leaving.
He captured that same stillness in a heavily loaded photograph, “Graffiti” where rubble, trash and animated graffiti exist along with the skeleton and an abandoned building. The silence of abandonment and the voices of graffiti artists echo under a dazzling blue sky.
And there is “Roadside Shack” which I have come to regard as an iconic photograph of Aubrey Kauffman since I saw it in his solo exhibition at Rider University and wrote what I wrote. can still see it today, “(He) stands in solitary abandonment on a gravel expanse with only a fire hydrant leaning over for the company. The cabin, covered in graffiti, testifies that, although it is alone in it. today, it has not always been, like the human condition often experienced by many.
Kauffman is expert at capturing the human presence in his images, even though people never appear. In “Three Benches and a Shopping Cart”, there is a feeling of waiting in the benches waiting for someone to stop there to rest, perhaps before reaching the cart to start shopping. And in “Diner and Dinosaur,” although they stand behind an empty parking lot, there is no sense of abandonment here. On the contrary, everything looks freshly cleaned, painted and polished, ready to welcome visitors on a bright and happy day.
Kauffman received an MA in Visual Arts from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and received the prestigious Brovero Prize for Mason Gross Photography. He has taught photography to Mason Gross, Middlesex County College, Mercer County Community College, and Community College of Philadelphia. His work is in the permanent collection of the New Jersey State Museum. He has also exhibited at the Newark Museum, Trenton City Museum, Morris Museum, Biggs Museum of American Art, and Rider University, as well as galleries in Amarillo, Texas, and New York. He is currently a contributing producer for State of the Arts broadcast on public television in New Jersey, New York and eastern Pennsylvania.
This exhibition of Kauffman photographs was a good choice by the Arts Council of Princeton to welcome visitors back to their Taplin gallery. It is a calm spectacle, but also one that speaks forcefully of the dichotomy we have all had to experience in this time of pandemic: the light holding firmly against the darkness, the life force of human presence existing even in solitude.
“We are delighted to welcome the community back to our Taplin Gallery space,” said CAP Artistic Director Maria Evans. “The ‘calm’ Aubrey portrayed in his photographs is a perfect subject for all of us to reflect on this fall. We can’t wait to see everyone again. “
IF YOU ARE GOING TO:
- WHAT: Constantly repeating themes, photographs by Aubrey J. Kauffman
- OR: Princeton Arts Council, 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton
- WHEN: Until October 9. Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday
- CONTACT: 609-924-8777; [email protected]