Today I hit two galleries, the first was a first – the French Art Studio. I wanted to see the Synergy exhibition which is a collaboration between the photographer Lee Jeffries and stencil/spray paint artist Jef Aerosol. Part of the website write-up is below:

“The artistic chemistry was sparked when the two artists first met in London, early 2014 … The result is an incredibly harmonious project. Lee Jeffries’ powerful yet delicate portraits lend themselves perfectly to stencilling, allowing Jef Aérosol to reinterpret the characters’ faces and stories.

The movement given by Jef Aerosol’s stencil complements the stillness and gravity of Lee Jeffries’ portraits. The detail, the singularity, the strength of the pieces will leave the audience moved and startled. The show features individual works as well as several four-handed pieces, for a combined effect that is truly ‘greater than the simple sum of its parts”. http://www.thefrenchartstudio.com/Exhibit_Detail.cfm?ShowsID=107

I first came across Lee’s work via a favourite when browsing on 500px and was immediately taken by his work and the level of detail that he brings out in his subjects. And the thing that immediately strikes you is that “it’s all about the eyes”. In every picture whether face on or profile, the one thing that is in focus and which is the focal point of the picture are the eyes of the subject. And this holds true whether they are looking directly at your or not!!!! For me, this makes many of the pictures haunting and unnerving. They get under my skin and sometimes I feel as unclean as you think some of the subjects are – and although they may be homeless, it does not follow that they are not clean – just stereotypes coming into play. There are elements of Andres Serrano’s Nomads series http://www.artnet.com/usernet/awc/awc_thumbnail.asp?aid=424202827&gid=424202827&cid=118028&works_of_art=1 in terms of subject matter and the studio aspect of the some of the portraits.

In terms of the detail that he brings out, yes, this will be done in post processing, but you have to also take into account the lighting that is utilised. The backgrounds are normally very dark (a significant proportion the works exhibited were black and white  – I counted  about 5 colour photographs). Even the ones in colour had a monochromatic feel to them. The first photography below, is in colour and is not washed out, but to me there is no great contrast between the silver hair and the skin tone, even the lipstick is not overly vibrant. I think the lighting here is soft box either side and possibly a central overhead light with an umbrella/softbox – a similar set up to what we did in class – see the previous post. The only shadows are in the folds of her skin. I like the elegant craziness of her hair, the big loose waves and the fact that is it not perfectly styled but still feels very proper… not unkempt!!!

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© Lee Jeffries

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© Lee Jeffries

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© Lee Jeffries

Again we have the eyes, a piercing but not challenging stare… simply saying to me, look at me, I am here, you cannot ignore me. The lighting seeming to focus more on the forehead and nose and less so on the beard, but that could also be the change in texture from skin to hair.

 

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© Lee Jeffries

This is one of my favourite pictures and it is the only one in the exhibition that I remember seeing that is not a face portrait. It’s an outstretched hand which in my mind speaks as much to me as the face of the person it belongs to. The lighting is possibly more overhead and angled – as what little shadow there is, is again shown in the folds of the skin, in the palm and the fingers.

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© Lee Jeffries

This is at once cheeky, haunting and unnerving. The single open eyed, the raised brown and the wrinkled closed eye, combined with the smoke. I suspect this was taken outside given the blurred but lit background, so he may well have relied on natural light. A flash gun and reflector may have been used as the lighting on the right side of the face is much more pronounced than the left. However, I cannot place what caused the streak in the left eye…..

Now we move onto Jef Aerosol…and the Synergy. Some of his pieces were on cardboard and other on pieces of wood, which brought added texture that you did not have with the photographs of Jeffries.

The significance of the red arrow is to show that the focus again is on the eyes and where they are looking. In this first picture, I think the lighting is angled onto the face, with a perspective from just above the subject pointing downwards. I love the detail in this stencil… it brings the artwork to life and I feel like I can feel the texture of the skin of the subject.

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© Jef Aerosol

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© Jef Aerosol

To me, these eyes are not sad, merely questioning….

The lighting being face on and on either side – the stencil adding more texture and grit than I believe the photograph had… another favourite of mine.

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© Jef Aerosol

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© Jef Aerosol & Lee Jeffries – mixed media (stencil and photograph)

This is where the collaboration could be said to be at its strongest… with both mediums coming together in a single piece.

The exhibition ends on 28 February so you don’t have much time to see it before its done!!!!

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