Seeing the difference between photography and visual art

  • 2011-08-31
  • By Sam Logger

CREATIVE WORK: The question arises if there is a separation between photography and visual art in the artwork of Kristine Luize Avotina.

RIGA - These times give us many opportunities in how to capture a moment. Some decide to take pictures using modern technologies; others, however, stick with a more traditional way which includes visual art. It seems that there is still a discussion whether photography and painting can have an equal sign. Based on it, the exhibition hall Arsenals offers a journey, called “The flights of the hybrids,” with boarding possible till Sept. 18.

Visual art as a form of expression is probably just as old as human kind itself. From the most primitive drawings on the walls of caves, it has turned into the most competitive and demanding art of time. The human eye and the desire to outclass others advanced the art, and through the Middle Ages, Renaissance and the Modern period visual art had become the role model in how to express reality.

Yet, in 1839, when the process of photography is revealed, visual art obviously meets its main competitor. Fighting for the honor to be the primary reality pointer, discussions are alive to declare what is art, and what is not.
Nevertheless, this exhibition is not created to name a winner. It works as the connector. The full title of the exhibition is “The flights of the hybrids. The artist as the photographer. The middle of the 19th century till 2010,” and it pays attention to the relations between photography and painting in the mind of an artist. Visual art has played its part in the development of photography, and that will be seen at the exhibition.

Still, there’s another goal – to show “how important the role of photography in the creative work of artists was, starting with versatile reality documentation, which includes the fixation of the artistic process itself, and model studies, down to various manipulations which let the artists widen their understanding about the world and the human capabilities in the visual perception,” says Irena Buzinska, curator of the exhibition. Moreover, she notes that the main emphasis is on the photos, which have served as preparation for painting rather than being real artistic photography. These hybrids, however, display a great insight into the creative searches of the artists.

Hence, the exhibition covers many fields which demonstrate beauty and fantasy, reflection of the past, mosaics and photo collages and many more. Next to the pieces of the 19th and 20th centuries, today’s Latvian artworks are lined up so visitors would have a chance to enjoy the art of Latvian masters, such as Karlis Huns, Janis Rozentals and Gustavs Klucis, together with the new generation of Latvian art – Lilija Dinere, Sandra Krastina, Miervaldis Polis and Kristine Luize Avotina.
The exhibition also showcases postcards, glass plates and even invites one to participate in a photo shoot at the photo salon created at the hall.

People depend on reality. Arguably the fight to understand which one – photography or painting – gives us a more authentic view on reality is almost unnecessary, as they both differ only in technique. But today, when taking pictures is an ordinary activity for people, while painting is left for those who can really paint, the discussion about the ‘reality pointer’ turns out to be even more pertinent. Probably back then photography was not considered to be the danger to art as it seems now, when paintings hang at exhibition halls, but photo galleries travel around the globe with the help of the Internet.

What are the hybrids of today’s art? What is today’s art? Are we able to detect if photography and painting are equally important reality platforms? Are the painter and photographer artists? Finally, where is the boundary in art, which separates photography and painting? We have many ways in how to capture a moment. Not all of them make you an artist, though. 

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