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Saturday, November 7, 2009
This was a total surprise that made my day. A review of some of my photos from the Dreamland show.
Any new photographic voice is automatically suspect. The development of modern technology has left all photographers baking under the heat lamp of Photoshop, digitalization, image manipulation, and cell phone camera over use. Besides these contemporary tools, the shadows of Streichen, Strand, Adams, Witken, Mondotti, and Weston, respectively, are permanently lurking as perpetual influences. This said, the photography of Tom LeFevre attempts not only a reconciliation with the historical influences and an acceptance of modern techniques, but a break with the idea that the initial image is the final statement, something many of these past visionaries also shared and understood.
In photography it is difficult to establish a personal vision. It seems as if all of the images have been taken and reworked. LeFevre, however, has found an eye. He has developed within his series of photos a direction that warrants serious further investigation and development. Hidden in the series of typical beach scenes and animals (well done in their own right) is a true artistic statement. Focusing on the beauty of decay, echoed in the work of Strand and Matta-Clark, and connected further to the painted canvases of native Pennsylvanians Charles Sheeler and John Moore, LeFevre's focus on dilapidated buildings and the beauty evident in their decline becomes his work's epic moment. The buildings not only sit on the landscape, they sprout from it. The focal angle fits each building. And through the use of cutting edge photo-combination and manipulation he is able to present a history of the structure rooted in the present.
The image's details not only leap off the page, but shimmer in their presentation; the viewer is instantly captured by the splintering wood, rusting metal and broken glass. The ages of the structures are not important. The photos become examinations of not only the environment, but the history. LeFevre forces the viewer to confront the circumstances that have produced the decline. He stands outside the lines, and focuses his vision on the permanence of history, and the debt owed to those who have come before. He first loves the scenes he takes; they become art later. However, without the initial image, all the technology in the world could not produce the artistic vision.
The difference between Tom LeFevre and the millions of photographers taking millions of images is that between his eye and the shutter button leaps the instinct to produce images that speak to a deeper understanding of time and space, and the beauty evident in all things, at all times, in all places.