My visit to the International Center of Photography last Thursday has brought light to me. It was the exhibition of Elliot Erwitt and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Two geniuses who capture the essence of the 50-70’s. The grief, the recovery, the celebration, the joy portrayed after WW2.
What I learned from them; street photography required spontaneity, not percussion. Every second captured different expression, different movement. There is no second chance. I learned to be brave and fast.
The depths of their work drew me into the moment. I got closer and closer to the frame. The question came to me after I got off the gallery; What will it look like if they are colored photographs?
I began to experience and reflect on photographs taken with monotone and colors. Of course, digitally, using my almost broken compact camera. Colors made the photo look alive. On the other hand, the subject became my center of attention when the color is not present. To make the point, to show the intent, the presence of colors is not as necessary as the subject matter. Color is a sugar powder in the doughnut; it’s a cherry on the cake.
All this learning made me realized that the presence of light is the most important thing. It became quite philosophical. The light is a metaphor for all the essential thing needed to do something. I am speaking for my own; there’s a tendency of adding elements when designing, adding extra words when we try to make the case, bringing excess supplies when traveling, or overthink the future possibilities. The focus diverted when the excitement of doing things overruled, and we lose the point.
Erwitt and Cartier-Bresson could make us believe even when colors are presentless. The point is the subject matters, their movement and emotion, and the essence of time.
The conclusion made brought me to another question: How might the advancement in technology we use every day could help us see the real matter instead of diverting our focus?
Another artist to look for her statement of simplicity and the importance of light is Mary Corse. Her solo exhibition runs thru November in Whitney Museum.