by Douglas R. Gilbert
Light is essential to the photographer’s art, revealing the world in ever-changing configurations. Light draws the forms on the film and sets the shadows dancing in the frame. This dance of light and shadow, both physical and compositional elements, defines space and creates moving, changing environments.
I have found that although the physical world is ever-present it is never quite knowable. That is, there is always mystery present, drawing one to itself. Photographing it is a primary method of my exploration. The subject remains elusive and inexhaustible.
On my first trip to Italy in 1999, I was curious about the “fabled light” that had drawn painters for centuries. I wondered if I could capture any difference in my black and white photographs. Coming from Boston in April, I fell in love with the way the light bathed the trees and the rough textures of ancient buildings.
In subsequent years, I returned often to Orvieto, Rome, Venice, parts of Tuscany and Lazio. I walked for miles, especially in Orvieto, a hill town in Umbria with a stunning 14th C. cathedral.
Initially, the interiors, especially the churches that I wandered into seemed too dark to photograph. But in 2010, I took my tripod and began searching out the light through the high windows of the Gothic and Romanesque churches. With long exposures, I found light playing on the essential elements created long ago. Conceived by architects and craftsmen to focus the attention of those who came to worship–on the altar, the crucifix, the frescoes and statues, the soaring spaces.
With this project, I have tried to push further into mystery and make visible entry points for seeing in a new or deeper way. It has been a vehicle for me to extend the boundaries of possibility in my work as a photographer.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Douglas R. Gilbert has been a serious photographer since the age of fourteen. When he was twenty-one, he joined the staff of Look magazine in New York, as the second youngest photojournalist in the magazines history. A few years later, he left Look to work as an artist and has since had his work published in countless national and international publications.
His work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena CA, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, as well as in many private and institutional collections. Forever Young, a group of photographs from an unpublished Look story is his fourth book. He lives with his wife in Ferrysburg, MI.
“The unique aspect of photography that sets it apart from other visual art media (save cinema) is that the camera produces a literal image for the subject. For me as artist it is also the crucial and ongoing challenge to make unaltered photographs that are intelligent and compelling. A photograph is full of facts, but is also capable of containing great mystery. This is what I strive to embody in all my work. To go beyond the surface—the appearance of the subject—and suggest that there is more to be known, is for me, most important. I find the natural world endlessly fascinating, inexhaustibly rich with suggestion and mystery.”