From 2009 to 2011 Finnish photographer, Jorma Puranen, created an innovative photographic series highlighting our lost affection for the forgotten world of painting. Entitled ‘Shadows, Reflections and All That Sort of Thing’, the series aims to represent and explore the period of time between classic painting and digitalised modernity, where by the concept of painting has become dry and purposeless. As an alternative perspective, Puranen adds an additional layer of image distortion on top of the traditional masterpieces, it creates a barrier between both viewer and original medium. The distancing, generated through the shiny textures of a the materialistic exterior glistening with a sense of hyper-physicality, are photographed in galleries and create an interactive viewing experience, separating you from the traditional guise of portrait digestion, manifesting a contemplation of historic art and our move away from these roots.
The reflected light, bouncing of the texturised outer of the paintings, creating a mask and hardened exterior, obscuring the viewers access to the complete image. Fragmentations of the past are contemplated through these obscurities, after the separation of modernity and history becomes apparent. The original subjects, would have lived lives that play out much similar to our own. Dreams, failure, emotion, desires, they would have led lives of normality that are so easily forgotten when reading the defiant, rich and powerful connotations of the portrait subjects. Just as the paintings serve as a sense of immortality, can this immortality become purposeless within the confinements of an art gallery, filled to the brim with utterly disconcertingly disrespectful to the traditional values of portraiture.
The fragility of the original artwork, is also a representation of the decline of the purpose of painting. As the artwork continues its life, the painting picks up the obligatory signs of wear and tear. it is this physical deterioration that points to the similar concept of painting and legacy of the painting. The cracking painting-front reflects how the popularity of painting has declined over the years, due to new digitalised technology and broader artistic bounds. Alongside the physicality of the painting, the use of archival material is an openly shapeable stereotype and the perfect means of art-historic comparison. The painting is a product of presentness, as is photography, but how long does that ‘presentness’ last and how long can a piece of art image maintain an element of timelessness, before it is historically categorised.
Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera. United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing, p198-203