Abandon is Jeff Bark's first project to be exhibited at Michael Hoppen Contemporary, London and will open on the 10th November 2006.
Below is the ArtSpeak™ from the Michael Hoppen website. Has anyone had gorged and satiated moments of exhalation lately?
Abandon, by American artist Jeff Bark is a series of elaborately constructed photographs re-examining the relationship between painting and photography. Rich and seductive, the portraits in this series contain a solitary nude figure illuminated against a shadowy domestic backdrop. In the absence of direct narrative it is the introspective abandon of each subject that joins the separate tableaux. Models caught in near limbo; moments of respite and exhalation are presented in Bark's delicately allegorical work.
Turning on its head the instantaneous nature of photography, Bark painstakingly selects his models, and intricately sculpts details and tensions in his contemporary domestic set pieces. He constructs each environment from scratch tailoring the scenarios to draw out the individual abandon of each model - the time spent constructing each set is comparable to that expended by a painter in their studio. Working with a large format camera and a long exposure time these photographs are not of a climatic instant moment but of a conflation of time; moments of abandon past, present and future rolled into one. Bark's use of light and shadow are created manually and not digitally, and the results echo the work of the Dutch masters, revealing the contemplation of each figure in shafts of soft illumination. Bark's colour palate however, is more in keeping with the American 1950's adult 'cartoon' aesthetic. Soft dull greens and browns illuminated with dirty urban sunlight, drawn curtains filtering the chaos and noise of the asphalt jungle.
Like Ingres' La Grand Odalisque or Oedipus Explains the Riddle of the Sphinx, Bark infuses layer upon layer of information for the viewer to digest. Contemporary urban motifs are prevalent in each image amongst the debris of American consumerism - inflatable plastic swimming pools, telephones, cigarettes, and mass-produced furniture produce seams of narrative. Influenced by Norman Rockwell, Eric Fischl and filmmaker, David Lynch, Bark creates quiet erotic moods and spheres around his subjects with clues and hints but with nothing explicitly told. Whether gorged and satiated or lost in desire and abandon, the subjects of Bark's large works are shocking in their honesty, yet always infused with a tenderness and vulnerability.