JEFFREY BECOM: PASSING FIGURES
Apr 22 – Jul 3, 2019
For four decades the painted façades of traditional architecture around the globe have been the singular focus of my lens. I undertook this pursuit quite naturally, coming to it as a colorist painter, photographer, and visual anthropologist with formal training as an architect. Initially I intentionally avoided capturing people, animals, or even vegetation in my images.
My mission was to document the vernacular architecture painted by indigenous people while showcasing color interactions within my own carefully distilled, abstract compositions. Color was my subject and palette, and painted walls, my canvas. I felt that figures and other extraneous details would distract from these goals.
However, as my work progressed into ever more remote territories, I found that a traditionally dressed villager offered a brilliant counterpoint to painted walls. As the years pass, more and more figures have appeared in my work. However, I continue to avoid the human face in my images in order to maintain my signature emphasis on color.
PASSING FIGURES is the first exhibition to highlight the development and consistency of my figurative imagery over the past forty years.
As with all my images, I attempt to capture the scene as it exists. I allow myself no cropping, no digital editing, and no color changes or artificial enhancements. This means I need to envision my final image within the viewfinder, work with available lighting, and carefully choose the time of day and weather conditions before I shoot.
With figurative imagery this often means days or weeks of scouting the ideal place and time to await a passing figure to complete my ideal composition. I must locate myself in an out of the way hide where I can observe without being seen. There I wait at specific times when lighting and village activities are most opportune. Ultimately someone may pass through my view and reward my patience.
Jeffrey Becom, April 2019