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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vision To Visuals: A Moment In Time

Julian Lennon’s personal and profound Timeless exhibition

Image from Julian Lennon’s exhibition, Timeless
Timothy White, the great portrait photographer was an early enthusiast of Lennon’s photographs and encouraged him to develop a full repertoire for a show. Commenting on their relationship as curator-artist, Lennon told me that he always enjoyed taking pictures and took shots over the years on tours around the world, “but it was only after a meeting with photographer Timothy White last year, that made me take my work seriously. He was the one that suggested I do an exhibition, which I thought was a crazy idea at first, but after working through all of the images I had, I began to see that that could be a possibility, with the right guidance.”

Lennon is truly passionate about photography. He carries his camera with him “99.9%” of the time. He shoots with a mix of Leica X1, Leica D-Lux 4, Canon EOS 5D Mark II cameras. He’s particularly drawn to clouds, and his schedule naturally puts him close to his favorite view at 35,000 feet very frequently. “I rarely sleep on planes and have seen most movies available, and have always enjoyed dawn, dusk and clouds... So whenever I see something that looks beautiful, naturally, I’m drawn to taking a few pictures. I could honestly do a whole collection on clouds. There’s a peace and a calmness. Up there, time stands still for a minute or two. It’s a chance to breathe, to think for a moment, but also a time to dream and let go.”

In an interview with Salon almost a decade ago, Lennon made a poignant comment on the success of the song “Hey Jude,” that Paul McCartney wrote for him when he was five years old. He said, “A song written out of pure emotion always wins out. It wasn’t necessarily a commercial song, by any standard. It was about a person and a life and a story.” This deep understanding of “pure emotion” is precisely what underlies Lennon’s work as a visual artist. Because he shoots with this emotion as his “lens,” his photographs are infused with sentiment, not just technique. Timothy White describes one of his favorite photographs in the show, “Floating Clouds” as “soft and ethereal and otherworldly.”

Judging from the compositions, nuanced tonality, beauty and symbolism in all his pictures, it’s hard to imagine that photography isn’t something Lennon was professionally trained in. He grew up painting and drawing but turned to photography as an “alternative way to capture ideas and images, or put thoughts and feeling into a visual medium.” Responding to my curiosity about the influence of his musical sensibilities on his visual ones, Lennon said, “For me, it’s about the pure essence of something you either hear or see. It’s about the truth in many ways. Capturing a moment in time, a thought, a feeling, an emotion. It’s translating one’s thoughts, visions and feeling to others, in the hope that they may understand you and/or your world just that little bit more.” This expression of “truth” holds the secret to Lennon’s stunning photographs.

Walking through Duggal’s behind-the-scenes processes that transform digital images into fine-art prints, Lennon was able to see the various printing options and substrate choices for his photographs. Choosing archi-val giclee prints at the end, he seemed happy to have connected with the production side of digital photography—“I never knew how complicated the process of printing professionally really was! To have to check and recheck until all aspects are just right. To test different paper for different themes/styles, etc. I guess I can relate musically to the process more than anything. It’s a question of making sure all of the right elements come together, in just the right way, so that the final result is, hopefully, a thing of beauty. And without question, Duggal was one of those elements. It was a pleasure working with them, and hopefully we’ll continue to do so in the years to come.”

For more information on Duggal, visit www.duggal.com or check out the new blog at www.duggal.com/connect and see their newest articles on the printing, photography and fine-art industry.


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