Creatures of the night

You all know by now that I’m a music lover, and one of my favorite composers is Maurice Ravel.  Much of his music is imbued with a tender, haunting nostalgia and a mysterious longing; but he also writes complex, demanding works that are avant-garde or jazz-inspired, music brilliant and hard-edged, yet still evoking dark emotions:  like diamonds dipped in tears.

His piano suite Miroirs  (1904 – 1905) begins with a breathless, fleet depiction of “Noctuelles”,  or night moths, that trills and buzzes about chromatically in the upper reaches of the keyboard. Ravel’s genius here is to translate that uncanny soft fluttering of fragile wings into chattering sonorities that brush your face and escape your grasp, evoking both chills of delight and shudders of repulsion.

In a similar vein, my “white fuchsia” – what a strange contradictory name – seems to be attempting flight, and the pale hearts that it drags in its wake are drained of love and life force.  Night creatures indeed.

Here’s a recording from 1958 of the legendary virtuoso Sviatoslav Richter playing “Noctuelles” and “Oiseaux Tristes” from Miroirs.  Astonishing, sublime. (This link takes you to YouTube):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHogSUlpbFo

D. Roddis, “Noctuelles I (white fuchsia)”.  Digital image,  available various sizes as an archival pigment print.  Edition of 25.  © David Roddis, 2014.

D. Roddis, “Noctuelles I (white fuchsia)”. Digital image, available various sizes as an archival pigment print. Edition of 25. © David Roddis, 2014.

Ethereal…

I went all white with my garden this year… And certainly I was partly inspired by the white garden at Sissinghurst, Kent (home to Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson) which I visited one divine summer day in the 1980″s… But there were other factors involved.  I needed a change of pace from the overload of hot colors in last year’s body of work… And there is an element of sacrifice, purity with white; white is virginal, which means unviolated,  also fresh, naive; first time brides wear white; and white is also, surprisingly, a color of mourning.  And mourning is what I spent a large chunk of 2014 doing…

This choice of a white garden yielded weirdly wrong specimens – white bleeding hearts and white fuchsia, anyone? – and it took all of my self control not to introduce at least a splash of color.

White is ethereal, innocent, new and fragile shot against the light, and sombre, elegiac when against black. Here’s an example of the former:

D.Roddis, "Ethereal" (white begonia) .  Digital photograph, dimensions variable.  © David Roddis Photography 2014.  All rights reserved.

D.Roddis, “Ethereal (white begonia)”  Digital photograph, dimensions variable. © David Roddis Photography 2014. All rights reserved.

A place for experiments

I have two web presences, namely, this blog and davidroddis.com, and I treat them in different ways.

D. Roddis, "August Dahlias and Clematis." Digital image © David Roddis Photography, 2014.  All rights reserved.

D. Roddis, “August Dahlias and Clematis.” Digital image © David Roddis Photography, 2014. All rights reserved.

This blog is my just-out-of-bed, messy hair presence.  The place where I pull on some shorts and a T-shirt and kick back.  It’s very much a place for experiments and trying out new ideas.  Now, don’t get me wrong – everything here is thought through.  Duds don’t make it past the post, and whatever images I present here I believe have some merit.

Take the image above, for example.  Those who know me and my work know that I love to shoot against light so that the image is somewhat or even entirely blown-out (blasted with light so that there is little, or no, detail remaining in some sections).  Photography is ALL about light, after all.  And photography requires an “eye” and a certain amount of bravery in making choices, often very fast ones.  What you include and what you exclude matter. 

So I like the above image for its balance – the upward sweep of the colorful dahlias is accentuated by the tall glass vase, and is balanced out by the twirling tendrils of the clematis in the right foreground, more earthbound in their stoneware jug

I like this image, but I don’t love it.  It’s a little too mundane.  A little too everyday.  I would never seriously entertain the thought that anyone would, for example, purchase this image for their wall or to gaze at’ or that anyone would have their worldview challenged or changed by it.  But I’ve included it here as part of a process of play and discovery.  It’s nice enough, and that’s flat.  Poor little mundane image, it’s doing its best!

I’ve spoken about this distinction before: it’s snapshots vs. photographs.  Remember?

My web presence at davidroddis.com is a whole different ballgame.  It’s exclusively for the winners.  You’ll never see me there in less than my Sunday best, and I think of it as a job interview – I sell my work there and it had better be dressed up, too.

But just as the Polaroid shot often contained a keeper, my quick takes and off-the-cuff snaps often yield interesting results.  So here are some dahlia shots that I feel inclined to share, without apology.  Some of them might even be the floral versions of Lana Turner, waiting patiently here, at my virtual Schwab’s Drugstore soda fountain, to be discovered.  Time will tell.

What do you think?

Dahlias Dark

All art aspires to the ecstatic.

The word literally means “to stand outside…”  We are transported, taken out of ourselves, when we find a new way of looking, a new perspective.  Artists pledge to see what others do not. In turn, those who choose to experience art pledge to keep an open mind, not to judge, and they in turn share in this new experience.  Art is a two-way street.

As bright and colorful as last year’s crop appeared, so darkness decends as the days shorten and our minds turn to …. ?

David Roddis, “Dahlias Dark” (2014).  © David Roddis.  All rights reserved.

David Roddis, “Dahlias Dark” (2014). © David Roddis. All rights reserved.

 

Sold! My Homage to Georgia O’Keefe

Image

“Peony Study (for Georgia O’Keefe)” (2011) has an ever-so-slightly ironic title; the level of irony that you can only get by comparing yourself to a world-famous first-rate 2nd-rate painter.

And, like most titles, it came after the fact.  Georgia O’Keefe, cranky old curmudgeoness extraordinaire, is anything but a “girl’s girl”; and this subject matter was certainly not her main interest; still, she is justly famous for her alarmingly intimate, sexually-charged renditions of flowers, in which each fold and frill, every nook and cranny is delineated with salacious loving care and served directly and defiantly in your face.

PeonyAtRougeConcept2012

This piece was first seen at Rouge Concept Gallery in April and May, 2012 (as seen in the picture, at left).  It recently went to someone’s home on approval – and they loved it so much in situ that they decided to purchase it.  SOLD!

It is always a pleasure to know that one’s work is going to a good home, with people who take delight in viewing it, and who chose it out of all the profusion of images available.

 

 

Nine more prints are available of this work before the edition is closed.   In the image above, the work was printed at 45 x 30″, then matted and framed in white.  Other sizes can be created, though I don’t print this one smaller than 22 x 17″.  Certain pieces just need that large-scale presentation.

If you are interested in a purchase, or would like to see other samples of my work, use my contact form to set up an appointment.  Alternatively, please call 416 802 6163.