Brigitte Carnochan


floating world
Natural Beauty
Floating World
Bella Figura


For price and availability, please contact the gallery (415) 732-0300   info@modernbook.com

Natural Beauty

People tend to look at photographs too quickly, superficially. They make assumptions of familiarity. I want to slow the viewer down to appreciate in more detail the beauty of the natural world. We see the world in pieces and put it together in our imaginations—a new reality. Each time we look, the fragments reconstitute themselves with subtle differences, a second look nuanced with small changes. In this series, the spacesbetween the image sections, like the leading in a stained glass window, become an integral part of the composition.I have printed these photographs with one of the oldest photographic materials—platinum—for its extravagantly long tonal range, depth, and permanence. The warm black, grey, and brown tones of the photographs further abstract the image, making it still easier to reconfigure the pieces and imagine the whole. My subject matter, as always, comes mostly from my own garden— I can wander out of my garage darkroom directly into my garden to sit among the roses, peonies, grasses, dogwood, rhododendrons, and iris while waiting for a fifteen minute platinum exposure— a meditation that is reassuring and inspiring.

Floating World

While rummaging through a used book store in Princeton, New Jersey, I discovered a volume of haiku and tanka translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi in 1977. The poems were by Japanese women from the 7th through the 20th centuries and represent all the major styles during this period—from the Classical to Contemporary schools. I was immediately drawn to the poems, and as I read them—so allusive and rich in imagery—I knew that I wanted to make their photographic equivalents. The Floating World refers to the conception of a world as evanescent, impermanent, of fleeting beauty and divorced from the responsibilities of the mundane, everyday world. For the poets in this volume, that world centered on love—longing for love and the beloved, mourning lost love, pondering its mystery. The beauty of the natural world—its flowers, landscape, the moon, and the changing seasons—serves as the primary metaphor.

Original calligraphy by Richard Man.

Bella Figura

These painted images start out as black and white (gelatin silver) prints that I create in my darkroom. Deciding when and how to paint an image is intuitive for me–some images lend themselves to the transformations of oil paint and others don’t. I use all kinds of oil paints, not just photo oils, to create images interpreting my memory and imagination more than reality. I use cotton swabs of varying sizes instead of brushes to apply paint and remove bits of it with an art eraser to create highlights and other effects.

There’s a magic for me in applying the paints–moving them around on the image, layering them, deepening the shadows and opening the highlights. Though the images are editioned, each one is unique,and I try to make the images in an edition as similar to each other as possible.

Painting on photographs is an old tradition, and I like to think I put a modern spin on it.   

- Brigitte Carnochan

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