Dreams from the dark room” Thomas Barbey solo exhibition at Emmanuel Fremin gallery

Emmanuel Fremin Gallery is pleased to announce its second exhibition for renowned photographer Thomas Barbèy. “Dreams from the dark room” will run from March 15 to April 21 2012, the opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 15 from 6 to 8 PM. 547 West 27 Street, suite 508, New York City, NY 10001.

This  will be an exhibition of Barbey’s black and white photo compositions that give evidence to his ability to capture the impossible and fantasized through the manual process of developing film negatives and the assemblage of various imagery.

The French poet and founder of the surrealist movement André Breton may turn a blind eye in disbelief, René Magritte  roll over in his grave green with envy at the absurd and imaginative compositions of Barbèy. While the artistry and imagination of Man Ray might smile down knowingly.

Barbèy who For the past 20 years has been collecting and combining photographs that depict a variety of subject matter: cityscapes, trees, beaches, gondolas, and cathedrals. In other words, relatively mundane images that, when viewed independently, may fail to illicit a response.

When taken to the dark room, Barbèy coalesces these negatives through a series of unique and impressively orchestrated steps. For many artists, photoshop and graphic editing has become a shortcut in contemporary photography. Thomas Barbèy has chosen the road less traveled. His process is a personal and intricate labyrinth resulting in compositions best described as impressively surreal. Each negative is selected after years, and sometimes decades of storage, and then matched with other negatives to meet an unimaginable transmogrification.

“The process of my montage starts with concept. It is then followed by the exposure and selection of negatives. The design is then created by carefully choosing printing procedures as combination printing: sandwiching negatives together, thereby printing them simultaneously; pre-planned double exposure in the camera; the re-photographing of collaged photographs; and/or a combination of the above.”

Thomas’s works along the same ascetic as Jerry Uelsmann’s creations in photomontage which is not new as  this working method may date back to the 1860’s which may have been a high point in Europe  “In the 1860s and subsequent decades publishers of binocular photographs, such as the London Stereoscope Co. and the American firm Underwood & Underwood, marketed an entire series of ethereal ghosts, angels and fairies for the amusement of the public.” — from: The Perfect Medium,s p.52.

Thomas’s photo montages join the ranks of many other artist exploring the illusionistic quality and juxtaposing imagery that prevails in this type of process.  A ski slope that drapes like a bed sheet or a highway in San Francisco that intersects through a Banyan tree; each title is a play on words, as with “Wet Dreams”, showing a seascape beaching out onto a bedded mattress where the sun kissed figures stroll, play, and lounge on the sand.

The use of film and the manual exposure of each photograph in a darkroom is an essential element to the process and final product of Barbèy’s work where the images must pass the “So what?” test. That is, if the final montage of two or more images does not affect the artist in a particular way he throws it out and starts over. It is not until after that Barbèy experiments with different images, sometimes by accident and other times willfully, does the combination fit by transcending one into another world.

Thomas Barbèy was born in Greenwich, Connecticut and spent his childhood in Geneva, Switzerland. He began drawing seriously at an early age, using black “encre de Chine” and gouaches for color. Some early influences for his surrealistic images have been Philippe Druillet, Roger Dean, René Magritte, M.C. Escher and H.R. Giger. He has been interviewed and featured on the cover of “Inked” Magazine and featured in the New Britain Herald.

So if you’re in the neighborhood or don’t need to see your accountant who’s preparing your taxes or if you’ve a large return why not stop down and see some unusual art. Buy a piece of history, you never know.


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