I had the pleasure recently of meeting up with Eva Kalpadaki PhD who is a very talented photographer of the abstract and minimal, and who is based in the very corporeal and maximal Brighton.
The context in which we met was unusual in that it was a forum of Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce which brings together creative businesses and artists at The Basement in Brighton. The next event is linked here: http://www.businessinbrighton.org.uk/event/lets-get-together-how-work-collaboratively
Thrown together in a group discussion, it was obvious that both of us had a shared interest in how conventional networking (where two people reprise their business cards in each other’s faces as quickly and brutally as possible) could be subverted into something more interesting. How simply asking open-ended questions of each other would lead to a far greater understanding of how each other operates, what our aims and ambitions might be – and how we might be able to support one another in achieving them.
Eva’s photography which she kindly sent me links to, has an interesting lesson to teach us, unconsciously and without a manifesto.
I started the conversation on email.
RS: I was encouraged to see an artist who is capable of asking deeper questions through the simplicity of abstract photography. The minimal approach you use on the latter material, where the lens unflinchingly captures the interface between reality and dreams – and the jolt that boundary can deliver is superb. However, just as exciting is your earlier work using the ultra-plasticity that the camera can obtain when exposing its eye to flowers and other natural objects shows a different perspective – but achieved with the same sophisticated eye. The area that I am particularly interested in and impressed by is the unresolved questions that your art raises which subvert the usual expectations of the medium.
EK: As much as I like ‘the usual expectations of the medium’ and I started photography by exploring those expectations I ended up in what you saw; to question the nature of photography and to cause a tension in what you are looking at. I don’t know what to expect as I follow my inspiration and the flow of things but I am really looking forward to the next step.
RS: The most interesting ideas are the ones that no-one else is thinking yet. The trick is to see things in a different light, and then turn that light on for others. Then get people of like mind to coalesce around you.
The reason I like Eva’s work is because, as with minimalist art, it seeks to move away from self-expression and in so doing drops the usual conventions which ask for storyline, insight, commentary, allusion, metaphor and the artist either physically or symbolically inside the work.
The technique is the palette. The palette informs the technique. It speaks of space. The image on the canvas is the art in itself. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. If you can read messages, meanings and morality into the creation, then that is your mind’s neurological pathways conspiring together to write a storyboard – and therefore speaks more about your history and hinterland than the artist’s.
Artists like Eva are seeking to engender reaction, response and allegiance in the viewer through the unadorned action of the photograph rather than in the subliminal meaning or consciousness of the artist. If it is beautiful it is because it is beautiful. We can admire the work because of its purity and aesthetical freedom. It is a physical object like a glorious sunrise or a new born baby. It is enough in itself to be admired. It does not need a context, a movement or endorsement by its peers.
Ad Reinhardt said about minimalist art, “The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. The laying bare of oneself is obscene. Art begins with the getting rid of nature.”
How does this apply to life and how we apply ourselves to it?
Well, every time we go into a situation with a complex set of expectations, a series of demands before the negotiation has even begun, an anticipated lexicon of what the other person is going to say, we spoil the essential beauty of the moment of meeting.
Instead, what would it be like to simply look forward to the moment. To anticipate the specialness of interaction with another unique human being. To enjoy the visual kick, the vocal surge, the intellectual power jump?
Eva’s art does not have an agenda attached. Her simple, tranquil, ‘empty’ expressions of life from a different perspective are teaching one lesson only. Or is that an anti-lesson?
Here is the lesson: Do not expect, simply enjoy.
Links to Eva Kalpadaki’ s work.
A course she is leading at Phoenix Brighton (starts 27.4.11) and a link to an exhibition Eva curated with some of her students from Phoenix during the Brighton Photo Fringe 2010:
Finally, one of my son Callum’s pictures, and a link to his Flickr site: