TRUE GRIT: Brooke Shaden’s Edge and Painterly Vision

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Aug 21, 2020 8:06PM

In her newest work, Reign, Shaden combines her painterly aesthetics with mixed media elements- including the application of oil paint.

Brooke Shaden’s work reflects a fascination with painterly photography and redefining its place today in the world of contemporary art. Capturing vulnerability through poses, Shaden’s self-portraits are unusual, emotional, and transformed, exposing the beauty and darkness of human nature to establish a real human connection. Metaphorically rising from the ashes 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
Reign (Self Portrait), 2020
JoAnne Artman Gallery

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. Evoking a vintage, gritty feel, her work is based in reality and filtered through personal experience; each image within the series is rooted in deep personal investigation as digital alterations morph into alluring and disconcerting narratives.

Each image is a story as her vision extends beyond the realm of the camera, creating images that resemble paintings and speak of an era that is not our own.

In her newest work, Reign, Shaden combines her painterly aesthetics with mixed media elements- including the application of oil paint. Intensifying the overall texture, the atmospheric texture of the background and the figure’s garments is paired with the thick treatment of red paint and dirt engulfing the head and face. Though placed in an unidentifiable surrounding, the background plays an essential role in the narrative- blending in to Shaden’s self-portrait through the vignette shadowing and the mesmerizing, yet ominous, color cloud expelled from her head.

“So often I’ve heard photographers say they take pictures because they can’t paint, which is a bit degrading to the art of photography, and a lie about your own ability to learn something new,” says Shaden.

“I’m done with that narrative. I’m trying now. I’m trying hard. Because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I lied about what I was capable of.”

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JoAnne Artman Gallery