Last weekend, I went to see Simon Quadrat’s solo exhibition at the RWA (Royal West of England Academy) in Bristol. I really enjoyed the exhibition, and considering that it was an exhibition of oil paintings, it gave me a lot to think about in photographic terms.
Quadrat’s paintings (mostly still lives, landscapes and cityscapes) are complex and surreal. Apparently, they were created from his memory and imagination. The places and objects that he paints simply do not exist anywhere in reality.
Perhaps what I liked most about Quadrat’s paintings was the idea of layered realities. He takes seemingly disparate elements and draws them together to create strange new worlds, replete with suspense and tension. His buildings for example, are typically drawn as flat shapes on the canvas, lacking any real sense of perspective or depth, thereby creating some of that tension, which seems to characterise Quadrat’s work.
It is this idea of layered realities that made me think about photography. In a sense, Quadrat’s work is to painting, as photomontage is, to photography. I found myself looking at Quadrat’s paintings and thinking about how a similar effect could be employed using photographs. For example, by combining different elements and using different perspectives/lighting, in order to create that sense of tension in an imaginary new world. All in all, I found this exhibition quite inspiring, and I’m now looking forward to playing around with a few photo layering techniques in the coming weeks.