"Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional..." — Leonard Koren
Photographer Steve Squall’s images luxuriously embrace old school Black & White tonalities and the now-rare use of nude models in nature. As an artist, he is seeking to reconnect to the fundamentals, an intention driven by a specific, almost spiritual motivation.
“My current body of work focuses on the female form with an emphasis on the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of Wabi-Sabi,” explains Squall. “The images focus on simplicity in execution, embracing spontaneity - the ‘happy accident’, and finding the beauty in imperfection. It's largely a reaction to the highly produced work that I do for a living that often requires an entire team of creatives, heavy attention to detail, and a sizable amount of equipment to create.”
“Allowing myself to simply walk into a setting with nothing but a camera body, a single lens, a model, and just exploring while stopping to shoot when we find interesting scenes or stunning natural light has been quite a freeing experience. The work has helped me to rediscover the simple joy of just taking a photo without having a jumble of variables running through my head. It's reminiscent of the feeling I got so hooked on when I first picked up a camera and would just point it at whatever I thought looked interesting without worrying about too much else.”
Squall’s images are classic in their juxtaposition of the soft human flesh against the stark and harsh textures of the elements. A woman stretched out across a large rock, her hair spread across the surface, is a formal study in contrasting textures, but also a suggestion of humankind in relationship to the environment, the artificial raiment of society discarded but the exposed flesh separated from nature by a vulnerability that cannot be so easily erased.
“I liken the experience to the famous quote attributed to Picasso: "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." Well, it took me more than four years to photograph like a pro, and now I'm learning how to photograph like a child.”
Hometown: Shively, Kentucky
Education: BA in Graphic Design, Indiana University Southeast, 2009.
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.