by American Art Collector Staff
Text: "I’ve always loved abstraction,” Barbara Vaughn explains. “When I purchased a work of art it was usually an abstract painting. Those were two things I didn’t think I could do.” After a career in commercial portrait photography, Vaughn has turned her camera in a different direction.“
The switch to reflection in water was the discover of abstraction create by the moving water and create by the camera’s ability to freeze the motion,” she says. She captures ephemeral moments of reflection and crates monumental images of the natural abstractions often measuring over 6 feet.
The suggestion to make the images a a large as possible came from her dealer Lisa Dolby Chadwick. Vaughn works with a custom printer to produce her large-scale pigment prints on cold-press rag paper. She performs basic digital adjustments to the saturation of colors, contrast, density and exposure to create the final, arresting image.
Vaughn doesn’t include the source of the reflections in her images, temporarily frustrating the brain’s desire to make order and establish context. Imagination takes over. The visual clues that remain are not so much of the object reflected than references to different styles of art throughout history, such as abstract expressionism and cubism.
“My job is to find the images that are not only interesting and unusual but have some content and offer those clues,” she says.
Late afternoon light shining off buildings and boats reflects off the surface of what has become a black mirror. The midday sun shines through the water or reflects directly off the surface. No wind allows a mirrored surface. Too much wind creates a cacophony of shapes.
The broken-up reflection captured in Donisi was caused by a nearby tour boat. Vaughn explains that the small “cells” of reflections remind her of the way Chuck Close builds up his painted portraits. The fine reflections of Anemos (Greek for “wind”) were discovered on a windy canal in Bruges, Belgium.
“I went to Bruges, Amsterdam [Netherlands] and Ghent [Belgium] with the explicit idea that the water would be different there,” she says. “I didn’t expect to find so many tour boats and wind. I said to myself, ‘It’s not going to work.’ But I started experimenting. I found another type of visual experience, stylistically different from the smooth undulating pieces I had been dong.”
On the Surface, an exhibition of her latest work, will be shown at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco, May 7 through 30.