In his latest series of photographs, Chris Engman continues his investigations into the medium of photography. He also returns to his roots with the use of imagery from nature, often combining this with architectural imagery to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out. Natural light is combined with artificial light, geometry is combined with wilderness, and, as always in Engman's work, the relationship between illusion and materiality is explored. In the process this work considers and questions notions of habitation, landscape, and the natural environment.
Engman's process entails selecting a site in nature - often during a hiking or camping trip - and carefully documenting it from a single perspective over multiple visits. Upon his return to his studio in the city, he prints the images and uses them to line the surfaces of different interior spaces (including his studio and the living and dining room of his own home) - in effect, recreating the site in an indoor location and thereby bringing the wilderness inside.
If you look closely at each image you can see where Chris has "collaged" multiple prints onto the surfaces of the interiors, covering walls, ceilings, floors and even furniture and objects. He doesn't hide anything but instead makes the construction process readily apparent; prints are literally screwed into the surfaces or tacked on with tape or push pins.
In "Containment", the canyon and river have been reduced in scale to fit into and be contained by the walls, ceiling and floor of his studio, and the single perspective of the landscape has been laboriously reconstructed onto more than 200 surfaces. The logic of the two spaces overlap, sometimes agreeing and sometimes colliding. A photograph, here and by analogy, tries and fails to be a container for moments and places.
Chris Engman has participated in solo and group exhibitions at 68 Projects, Berlin; Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree; Project B, Milan; Galerie Clair, Munich; Flowers Gallery, London; SOIL Gallery, Seattle; and Roski Fine Arts Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, among others.
Most recently, his work was included in "Staking Claim: A California Invitational," at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; "NextNewCA" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA; and "Second Sight" at the Torrance Museum of Art, Torrance, CA. In 2018, he will be the subject of a survey exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Chris Engman's work is included in the collections of the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Houston Fine Arts Museum, Houston, TX; Sir Elton John Collection, Atlanta, GA; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Seattle Art Museum, The Henry Art Gallery, and the Microsoft Collection, Seattle, WA, and numerous private collections world wide.