Nude Studies explores the age-old fixation by artists to represent the human body specifically through the lens of three current photographers. All practice within the analog domain and yet their work manifests in unique forms. From the Grand Master of the minimal black & white aesthetic, Michael Kenna breaks new ground by photographing the human figure for the first time but not without his signature style. For colour and the vital female gaze we turn to Au Tze Long whose intimate and deeply personal works move between stories, dreams, ritual and reality, whispering of life’s inherent messiness and pain. Ben Felten’s project on photosynthesis marriages content and technique as his double exposures of plants on nudes come to life through cyanotype printing which are developed in sunlight.
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Au Tze Long sees photography as a sublimation from reality to spirituality. A graduate of the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong, she was awarded a scholarship through the Julian Lee Asia One Photographic Awards in 2017. Her first photo-book Intosomnia was published in 2018, and in 2018-19 she held solo photography exhibitions in Hong Kong and Tainan, Taiwan. Au is also an indie singer in two bands – Carame/ and Artichoke Heart — her music interests are diverse, from dream pop to improvising ritual chant.
Ben Felten is a French born photographer living in Hong Kong. He started his photography work 15 years ago shooting jazz musicians in small Parisian clubs. When he moved to Asia in 2014, his work shifted towards street photography using a panoramic film camera. This led him to exploring the more unusual features of film photography, including double exposures. He was also commissioned to illustrate a couple of large format books, Dreamhounds of Paris (2014) and Unknown Armies (2016). This led him to perfecting his portraiture work, and in 2018 the double exposure and portrait threads merged into the Photosynthesis project. This in turn rekindled his love of cyanotype printing which he’d dabbled in 10 years earlier. In 2020, he released a zine of his panoramic street work called Colours of Shanghai.
Michael Kenna’s mysterious photographs, often made at dawn or in the dark hours of night, concentrate primarily on the interaction between the natural landscape and human-made structures. Kenna is both a diurnal and nocturnal photographer, fascinated by light when it is most pliant. With long time-exposures, which might last throughout the night, his photographs often record details that the human eye is not able to perceive.
Kenna is particularly well-known for the intimate scale of his photography and his meticulous personal printing style. He works in the traditional, non-digital, silver photographic medium. His exquisitely hand crafted black and white prints, which he makes in his own darkroom, reflect a sense of refinement, respect for history, and thorough originality.
During a forty year career, Kenna’s photographic prints have been included in over nine hundred exhibitions throughout the world, and are in the permanent collections of over a hundred museums. More than seventy monographs and exhibition catalogs have so far been published on his work
Born in Widnes, Lancashire, England in 1953, Kenna currently lives with his family in Seattle, Washington, USA, and continues to photograph throughout the world.