Thursday, December 21, 2006

Surrealistic seagull

click photo to enlarge
I've never been a big fan of the Surrealist painters and I sometimes wonder why. I like the quirky, the individual, the mould- breakers, and consequently aspects of Dada appeal to me, though I can't forgive how they paved the way for many of the modern day charlatan-artists. But when it comes to Surrealism proper, say Dali or Tanguy, well, they leave me cold. I do confess to a sneaking regard for the idiosyncratic landscapes of de Chirico who influenced the Surrealists, and was often claimed as one of their own, but in general the so-called "dreaming reality" of their imagery, the otherworldliness and the slick paintwork evokes no other emotion in me than slight disgust.

Perhaps, like the artists associated with Art Nouveau, they tried too hard to be different. Maybe their work can only be read in one particular way, and I don't buy what they offer. Whatever my reasons, I realise that there are plenty of people who are fascinated by Surrealism. The man in the street, asked to name a twentieth century painter, is as likely to come up with Dali's name as anyone else's.

This photograph of a gull peering over the open-work shapes that decorate the top of the "Palace" night club on the promenade at Blackpool, Lancashire, isn't Surreal in any true sense of the word. But it is a bit odd, and that oddness set off today's train of thought. I noticed the bird against the sky, and saw how the shadows of the rounded squares seemed to point out its presence. The colours were unusual too, and so I used a long zoom lens at 300mm (35mm equivalent) to select those parts that made what I think is a good composition. The camera was, as is usual with me, set to Aperture Priority (f6.3 at 1/400 sec), fast enough to hand-hold. On this bright December day the ISO was 100, and the EV was -0.3.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen