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In an era when permanently capturing a moment is as simple as pulling a phone from one’s pocket, fine art photographers must push the boundaries of the medium. Artist Jeff Klapperich has taken photography to new levels of artistry with series, “Metamorphosis,” responding to the digital age with a combination of analog techniques and innovation.
A Colorado native now living in Brooklyn, Jeff Klapperich has specially developed an analog photographic process that incorporates drawn, painted and sculpted elements. The series explores the phenomenon of transformation in the cosmos, in nature, in art and in human life through its inclusion of these various mediums, and the metamorphic way they interact with each other. The resulting image shows a dramatic portrait, a representation of the human condition, alive and writhing, ever evolving.
“Metamorphosis has always been a fascinating topic to me. I’m drawn to examples of it in nature as in butterflies, or ice changing into water,” says Klapperich. “I couple these ideas with figurative gestures to relate them to human life. Metamorphosis is happening to all of us, all the time, in our bodies, our minds and our souls. I think it’s a very important process, and as a subject has many possibilities.”
“There is metamorphosis in my artistic process as well. I first take a picture of a person in a studio, and transform it into a drawing. That alone creates a dramatic shift in the image, as I’ve imbued it with my own interpretations, and I believe this is felt by the viewer. From this drawing I create a ceramic sculpture, adding further depth, literally as well as figuratively. Sculpting allows me to accentuate or oppose the forms that are present in the original image. The clay has an infinite number of textures and a capacity for dimension while remaining structural and anonymous. The final photograph is an image of the sculpture captured using creative techniques in lighting and exposure and shot through acetate paintings in a large format camera. With each step of the process, the image gets further from the reality of the model but closer to an artistic truth. The transformation is almost magical.”
This complicated technique is not always successful, a difficult reality given that a failure is usually not apparent until over 60 hours have been invested. Often the first iteration of an image will be a far cry from the finished work, forcing Klapperich to approach each piece with an open mind and allow a metamorphosis in his expectations as well. The depth of Klapperich’s emotional investment in each piece is manifest in the viewers’ experience.
Klapperich’s “Metamorphosis” and his innovative use of analog photography inspired the curation of a group show at Mike Wright Gallery in Denver and will be debuted during the March 12th opening. On display will be ten new images as large as 4×8 feet, along with elements from the artist’s entire, complex process. The revelation that the final photograph captures not a model, but an artist’s rendering in clay manipulated in camera, sparks an appreciation eclipsing the already palpable thematic depth. “Metamorphosis” explores the idea of transformation as it occurs in the process, in the subject and in the artist himself, all of which Klapperich wishes to reveal to viewers of this dynamic series.