Rogan Coles Artist Statement
The images in this archive are all a part of something. They maybe a reference to a place, to a time, to a moment, to a person – it doesn’t really matter, they all relate to something. How you relate to them maybe something very different to whatever my intention was when I took or made these images.
In looking over this body of work and, for me to say that I’m a “landscape photographer”, may come across as something of a misstatement or a joke. You may be left to ask, “Where are the “landscapes” in all of this”? Look carefully and you will see what I mean. Not all “landscapes” have to be pristine countryside views with precise compositions, stunning light and a balance of sorts between land and sky or, shimmering reflections in pools or lakes of water. My landscapes are different. They include people and the spaces they use and fill.
On the topic of landscapes, one photographers whose work I’ve come to admire immensely just recently is the work of Edward Burtynsky. Some amazing photography. The level of detail much of his work encompasses is, I find, enthralling. I find this so especially in his Quarry and Urban Mine series and the work he did on the step wells in India and elsewhere. You need to see Burtynsky’s pictures big – as in very BIG. And, once you’re in there, the details – they’re amazing.
I would like to say much the same about my own work. Not the “amazing” part, just the details. This is what I’m usually after in much of my own work – that and beyond the obvious, my work is all about details. Unlike say a fine artist’s work, the significant difference between my work and say a Vermeer or a Caravaggio, is that, the details in my work often become apparent only after I’ve taken my picture. I don’t often make my pictures because of some certain detail. More often than not and, when I’m out and about, I react to something. It might be a situation, a moment or a face. Boom, I take my picture. It’s only in the processing, this while selecting and prepping my images, that things are revealed or begin to emerge. This is just the way it is – the urban landscape and the human condition.
If there is any inspiration or influence in what I do, it may or most likely comes from classical arts. The level of detail and Vermeer’s use of light in his work has always intrigued me. And, while his work, or the themes around which much his work revolves, tends to be rather narrow and repetitive, there’s always that wealth of detail. Much the same can be said about Caravaggio, referring to the detail and his use of light – always singular and bold. To balance this, I have Goya as another source of inspiration together with El Greco and his work.
Someone once tried to draw similarities between what I do and the work of William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. Some how, I don’t think so. There are times when I seeking the mundane. However, wherever I go, this doesn’t happen.
Finally, there’s this whole “windows/frames” and “windows/mirrors” thing. Do I frame the moment or, am I looking out of a “window” somewhere? Am I “reflecting” life or, am I viewing something? Unlike say Nan Goldin or Cindy Sherman who tend to be the subjects of their own work, I’m no where to be seen – in a sense. And yet, I am indeed everywhere. If not, that picture couldn’t have been made. The question begs, the moments I tend to frame, what are they and what do they say about me as a person, as a visual artist, as a photographer? What, if any, is the relationship between myself and my subjects or the content of my images? In viewing what is on offer on these pages, this may help in answering some of these questions.