a new show of radical sex portraits by Mark I Chester
I did fine art black and white photographs for over 20 years. I started photographing with a 1.5 megapixel camera in 2000. It has taken me 8 years in exploring color digital to even get close to feeling like I could create art. In a sense this is my first show of art in 8 years.
My work is built upon the work of artists as diverse as George Catlin, who painted Indian tribes and documented their rituals in the US in the mid 1800s, August Sander who documented the German people in very straight forward black and white photos, Dorothea Lange and her work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the people of Appalachia and the haunting, yet sometimes stagy images by Diane Arbus. To this list I would add the work of two fine art photographers, George Platt Lynes and Bill Brandt, who both dealt with the psychology of human sexuality as much as they did the human body. All of these photographers and their struggles to document the human condition are my artistic muses.
Cultures that are not documented, simply disappear. So while sexual desire is an essential component and subtext in all of these images, the images themselves have their basis both in social documentary work and fine art portraiture.
These are images that could never have been done in black and white. The tones are black against black against black. In black and white, the tones would just be mush. But in color, the different tones of black and how each reflects light is enough to create layers of color and hues that vibrate against each other.
I'm still just trying to figure this out. :)