Below is the work of Richard Tuschman. The dreamy aesthetics have a dark eerie feel while combining enchanting visual qualities. His approach and techniques are interesting and well worth discovering, so be sure to checkout his bio and artist statements below.
Please see more of his work at his website.
RICHARD TUSCHMAN began experimenting with digital imaging in the early 1990’s, developing a style that synthesized his interests in photography, painting and assemblage. He has been exhibited widely, both in the US and internationally. Accolades and awards include Prix de la Photographie Paris (Gold Medal, People's Choice), Critical Mass Top 50, International Kontinent Awards (1st Place, Fine Art Projects) and Center Project Launch Juror's Award (chosen by Roger Watson, Fox Talbot Museum) among others. His photographs have been published on numerous online magazines/journals including Slate, LensCulture, LensScratch and Huffington Post. In 2016 he was named a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Photography. He currently lives and works in Krakow, Poland.
Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz
Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz is a novella told in staged photographs. It portrays an episode in the life of a fictional Jewish family living in Krakow, Poland in the year 1930. Set in the historically Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierz, the series was inspired by visits to Krakow, where my wife, Ewa, grew up and attended University. This is also not far from where many of my own East European Jewish ancestors lived before immigrating to America around 1900. The project is my attempt to visually weave together narrative fiction with strands of both cultural and family history, while paying homage to painters I love, like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Balthus, and Di Chirico, as well as photographers like Bill Brandt.
Dreamlike and poetic in style, Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz tells a tale primarily of loss. Death, the fraying of family bonds, and feelings of grief haunt many of the images, but these are also punctuated by moments of love, longing, and tenderness. The neighborhood of Kazimierz itself is a metaphor for loss and decay. As described in 1935 by the Jewish historian, Meir Balaban, by then the Jews remaining in the “once vibrant” neighborhood of Kazimierz were “only the poor and the ultra-conservative.” And while the series takes place some years before the death camps of the Holocaust, a growing darkness is apparent, along with the underlying awareness that most likely and tragically, the fates of all of the characters are doomed by history.
Like Hopper Meditations, my previous series, the images in Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz were created by digitally marrying dollhouse-size dioramas with live models. First, I built, painted and photographed the sets in my studio. I then photographed the live models against a plain backdrop, and lastly, made the digital composites in Photoshop. This way of working affords me control over the elements of set design, lighting, and composition. All of these aspects are significantly inspired by both theatre and cinema, as well as the artists I mentioned. While I strive to make the miniature sets as convincing as possible, they deviate just enough from reality to enhance the theatrical, slightly surreal mood.
In an attempt to both depart from and build upon Hopper Meditations, in which each image contained its own discrete story, all of the images in Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz are linked to a larger narrative arc. While I have a particular sequence of events in my own mind, I like to think of this story as open-ended, perhaps as movie stills from an unseen motion picture. Thus, each viewer is left to ponder and interpret each image, to fill in the gaps between the images, or to rearrange their chronological sequence. It is my hope that in this way, the pictures in Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz reflect the fleeting, fluid nature of both memory, and of dreams.
All Images © Richard Tuschman
This series of solitary young women in various bucolic settings began as an unrelated sequence of commercial assignments for fiction book covers, many of them historical. More recently, they have taken on a life of their own, evolving into an ongoing project.
I have always loved vintage photography and old master paintings, so I suppose historical fiction is a natural for me. The painterly landscape treatments in the series reflect my affinity for the melancholy trees of 17th century Dutch painters Rembrandt van Rijn and Jacob van Ruisdael, while the figures themselves draw heavily on the wistful, ethereal young women of the nineteenth century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
It is my hope that each young protagonist, through variations in wardrobe, pose and setting, is seen as having her own story. One has her eyes cast down pensively. Another is caught frozen in exuberant mid-twirl. Another, arms spread, delicately balances on a railroad track. Still another is running fast towards the edge of the frame, possibly echoing the fleeting nature of youth itself. Or perhaps they are all aspects of the same story, sharing common themes of self-discovery, beauty, and vitality on the one hand; and on the other, fragility, impermanence, and loss.
All Images © Richard Tuschman