Once Upon a Time in Kazimierz is a visual novella, which portrays a fictional Jewish family in 1930’s Poland. Set in the once vibrant neighborhood of Kazimierz in Krakow. The location is a metaphor for loss and decay. In 1935, the Jewish historian, Meir Balaban, described the neighborhood’s declining Jewish population as being “only the poor and the ultra-conservative”. Indeed, the darkness in the photographs, is underpinned by an awareness that the fates of the characters, are likely doomed by history, with the impending holocaust. While death, the fraying of family bonds, and feelings of grief haunt many of the photographs, this gloom is punctuated by moments of love, longing and tenderness.
While Tuschman continues to pay tribute to those artists who have inspired him—Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Balthas, Brandt—the series also demonstrates a significant development in Tuschman’s oeuvre. The artist’s Eastern European Jewish ancestors resided in the vicinity of Kazimierz until c.1900, and this forms part of the basis for weaving together a fictional narrative with strands of cultural and family history.
The photographs result from a sophisticated marriage of miniature dioramas with life-size models. The sets are photographed after being hand-built by the artist over several months, with the life-size models photographed separately and composited into the scenes.
References to cinema and theatre resonate across the work. While the artworks are constructed in an exacting manner, they are also deliberately made to fall away from reality—enhancing their theatricality—and to project a level of the surreal and a dreamlike quality.
Series: Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz
Signature: Signed, dated, titled, numbered on verso.
Image rights: Richard Tuschman
Klompching Gallery: March 2–April 9, 2016
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Direct from the artist.
About Richard Tuschman
Merging the handcrafted with digital technology, Richard Tuschman produces painterly, evocative photographs. He trained as a printmaker but always incorporated photographic processes into his work. With the introduction of Photoshop in the 1990s, Tuschman turned to photography, developing a style that incorporates techniques of graphic design, painting, and assemblage. In his words, “Photoshop came naturally to me, and seemed much more analogous to painting and printmaking (which was good for me) than a traditional darkroom. After that, my career in photo-illustration took off.” His commissioned work appears on book covers and in magazines and advertisements. The artist’s own projects include a still life series of montaged images and a suite of moody, staged domestic scenes inspired by Edward Hopper paintings. Tuschman cites Hopper as among his influences, which also include Rembrandt, the photographer Gregory Crewdson, and surrealism.
American, b. 1956, based in New York, New York