Brooke Shaden: Painterly Perspectives

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Jul 12, 2019 5:28PM

Photographer Brooke Shaden’s work reflects a fascination with painterly photography and redefining its place today in the world of contemporary art. Capturing her subjects with vulnerability in their poses, Shaden’s portraits are unusual, emotional, and transformed, exposing the beauty and darkness of human nature to establish a real human connection. Metaphorically rising from the darkness to be born anew, the compositional focus of her photographs is placed on the figure’s relation to their environment and the implied narrative rather than on human likeness or facial expression.

Brooke Shaden, Hidden #3: Praise, Detail, Photo on Velvet Fine Art Paper, 44 x 44 inches. Ed. ½

In her new series, “Begin Again,” Shaden is able to capture and reflect an emotional and transformed image, utilizing the type of technical gestures and visual fluidity that are reminiscent of the painted image.

Where painters use brushes and a physical palette to create their work, Shaden relies on light, exposure, the camera lens, as well as painterly photography techniques to hit the right mood and color palette for her fantastical and evocative images.

Brooke Shaden, Release, Detail, Photo on Velvet Fine Art Paper, 44 x 44 inches. Ed. ½

Shaden’s work represents the breathtaking imagery attainable through a fine-tuned manipulation of the medium. The vintage, gritty feel to the works, the tonal color palette, and her ability to capture and emulate raw emotion give the work a sharp bite – an edge which brings a deeper resonance to the work.

Her vision extends beyond the realm of the camera, creating images that resemble paintings and speak of an era that is not our own. Each image is a story. Forming a narrative through the integration and relationship of the figures within a landscape, rather than providing a narrative through their identity or facial expression.

Brooke Shaden, Reflection #2: Sown, Photo on Velvet Fine Art Paper, 44 x 44 inches. Ed. ½

“What happens when our vision of ourselves is shattered? In refusing to see ourselves clearly, we scatter ourselves broken and lame; our perception distorted. What if each piece of mirror contained a different fragment?” Shaden writes.

“Here [Reflection #2: Sown, Pictured Above] the mirror pieces reflect the sky. Is it possible to see ourselves reflected in the world around us? The agony in our character’s pose is both passive, letting go, and pleading, looking upward. Collapsed. Broken. Searching. Discovering.”

Brooke Shaden, Hidden #2: Concealed, Photo on Velvet Fine Art Paper, 44 x 44 inches. Ed. ½

Hidden: Concealed became a cornerstone of the series, representing, in part, the myriad of our possible selves. Identity is a difficult thing to discern, especially when the options are infinite and it feels impossible to stand out from the crowd. In this image I stand with 80+ clones of myself. We are all veiled, all blended together. The red veil, instead of symbolizing the person or thing we devote ourselves to, this time stands for the true self among a sea of false identities.”

“Who is that person for you, if you are honest?” she continues. “Who is the one among all the other possibilities that stands out from the crowd? Are you ever desperate to reveal yourself as unique rather than blend in?”

The relationship of the background to the figures reveals the profound narratives of identity and navigating a sense of self in a decidedly modern and confusing world. Printed on Velvet Fine Art Paper, the soft texture lends the appearance of a diffused watercolor painting, adding further mystique and intrigue to the already ambiguous location, era, and ethnicity of her figures. Chronicling the human condition, Begin Again mirrors the complexity of Shaden’s theme of identity, medium manipulation, and emotion.

JoAnne Artman Gallery, Presents:


June 13th, 2019 – August 31st, 2019

511A West 22nd St. | New York, NY 10011

Contact: JoAnne Artman

Telephone: 949-510-5481 | E-mail: [email protected]


JoAnne Artman Gallery