1 - 31 March, 2019
Cynthia James. Ryuijie. Jeffrey Aaronson.
My work consists of visions from an imaginary botanical record. Painting with oil on copper, I combine visual strategies from the past with magic realist overtones.
The viewer is immersed in the secret world of flowers and insects on the brink of destabilizing forces that cause the flowers to appear disembodied and adrift, while bees and pollinators experience disruption due to environmental changes.
Each flower is a world within itself, a miniature galaxy or stage upon which the insects interact in a drama mostly hidden from the human eye, while at the same time deeply affecting our lives.
Ryuijie was born in Otaru, Japan in 1950. As a young child he moved with his family to the US and subsequently lived in many places, from Hawaii to New Hampshire, and again in Japan, until his father retired from the military. Throughout his childhood, Ryuijie showed a serious inclination to the arts. This interest began to materialize during his own military service.
While stationed in Guam, Ryuijie learned underwater photography while pursuing his long time interest in scuba diving. After his tour, he came back to the Monterey Peninsula where he attended college and began a successful career in lithography. It was in Monterey that an exhibit of Jerry Uelsmann’s photographs inspired him and propelled him into the practice of fine art black and white photography.
Ryuijie has steadfastly pursued his own photographic vision for over thirty years, and has acquired a reputation for his exquisite platinum/palladium prints, in addition to his traditional black and white work. An exceptionally prolific artist, Ryuijie’s career has been highlighted by a multitude of exhibitions. His work has appeared in View Camera, Photovision, Camera and Darkroom, Black&White, Lenswork, and Focus magazines. He has published three books, Ryuijie: Photographs, Time and Place, and Fragments of Time, along with smaller catalogs.
His first portfolio, Ryuijie: Ten Photographs, was published in 1990 and his second portfolio, Ryuijie: Portfolio Two Platinum/Palladium, was published in 2002. Ryuijie’s currently work involves large split toned black and white prints of frozen botanicals, and his third portfolio, P2, a selection of square photographs taken with a 2 1/4Rollei camera. In October 2005 Ryuijie returned to his first love the landscape, and the abstraction, creating panoramic visions of the natural world. Works by Ryuijie can be found in private and public collections word wide including the Monterey Museum of Art, the Getty in Los Angeles, and the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson Arizona.
Jeffrey Aaronson’s series of photographs, Maybe its You, explores the age-old issue of identity in an intriguingly 21st-century way. After finding written descriptions in online personals profiles—specifically those who posted advertisements without photos—Aaronson sought out those subjects whose words intrigued him and askedthem to sit for his camera. Before the official shoot, each read his or her posting aloud into a tape recorder, expressing self-revelations, romantic yearnings, and desired qualities in a potential mate.
The upshot is a multi-dimensional form of portraiture, a genre which has been with us since ancient times and has always sought to present subjects according to the esthetics of the day. The intent might be a warts-and-all realism, as in Roman portraiture, or the soft-focus flattery of artists as diverse as Gainsborough and Renoir. But contemporary technology, in Aaronson’s hands, makes possible a more layered experience.
Photographic portraiture, which has been around since the invention of the camera in the early 19th century, has its own traditions, beginning with the stiff Daguerreotypes and studio shots of artists like Nadar and continuing up to the present day with the autobiographical disclosures of Nan Goldin or the fanciful deconstructions of Cindy Sherman. Aaronson uses a custom-made, 20-by-24-inch field camera fitted with a Polaroid back that bridges this history and is a curious marriage of 19th-century technology and up-to-the minute production: the Polaroid film for this project results in larger-than-life, 20-by-24-inch prints which are then reproduced as 30-by-40-inch Digital Chromogenic Prints. And the installation as a whole asks some searching questions about who we are in the age of rampant online information-sharing: How do we construct a personality? What are we looking for in ourselves and others? And ultimately how do others see us and judge us?