review

David Ellingsen
Hibernus...a winter study

Woodstock Times - December 17, 2009
Smart Art by Paul Smart


Organic Imperfections

With all the speed of our being swallowed by the current digital age, it's easy to forget much of what's being lost these days.

Galerie BMG's current exhibition through January 11, "Hibernus...a winter study" by Canadian photographer, David Ellingsen, utilizes what was once one of the prime materials for certain specialized visual artists...Polaroid film.

Stuff's gone now, like the warmth of recordings released on vinyl, or 16mm film screenings with the projector rattling and the dust motes dancing in a stream of near liquid narrative light. Like Brownie snapshots or hand-written letters, for that matter. Remember aerograms?

For the current show's series of richly textured and mystery-evoking floral works, Ellingsen has collected natural plants during the final stages of their being and then used an archaic Polaroid 55PN film, as fine-grained, textured and rich with organic imperfections as the collection it's being used to capture, to make it lasting art.

Talk about two eras ending, and an artist's use of his tools, his means, to comment on his subject matter, the end. Or vice-versa.

The resulting photographs, created in-studio and hand-processed in the darkroom, are solarized during the development process and printed to archival, museum exhibition standards.

The results speak to what the artist has referred to as his lifelong ambition to find a way of combining the elements inherent in his boyhood on a communal island north in British Columbia, where he learned to appreciate the juxtaposition of seemingly oddly matched elements, from water and ice and nature versus technology to the rural and urban he now sees coming together in his adopted city. Or these lively new floral works about the natural process of death and decay.

The Vancouver-based photographer has augmented a strong career in commercial and editorial work with a burgeoning fine art career that has seen his works appear in numerous solo and group museum and gallery exhibitions, and win awards and prizes from a variety of organizations including the International Photography Awards in Los Angeles, Black & White Magazine in San Francisco, PX3 in Paris and Applied Arts in Toronto. ++