If you fall prey to the time-honoured tradition of spring cleaning, you may inevitably fall into another annual spring home ritual: thinking that your place is actually pretty boring, and that it’s time to give it a makeover.
I usually partake in this by browsing expensive furniture sites until I’m depressed enough to give up, but there actually are ways to give your living space a refresher without dropping thousands of dollars. We’ve got five of those ways here.
1. Go Green
Dare I say it, but plants are trendy right now. Adding a little green to your home is a great way to add some life to empty spaces and freshen up a cramped space. Some may go all out with plants, filling their places with mini-trees with huge, sprawling leaves, or with something nearly impossible to care for like orchids.
The rest of us are going the way of the succulent and it’s easy to see why. Succulents are affordable and relatively easy to care for. (They actually DO need to be watered, just not as often as other plants.) You can get some teeny-tiny fellas to pop into a windowsill and call it a day, or go with something a bit more extravagant. As someone who is terrible at keeping things alive and has two succulents, it is important to do a bit of research into their care before you get one. If I’m being entirely honest, both my plants have one foot in the grave at this point.
If any level of plant care is too much, there are always fake ones. And honestly, with some of them, you can’t even tell the difference right away. No care required, but your apartment will still look fresh and fancy af.
Let me be very clear. When I’m talking about art, I’m not talking about art. I don’t mean you can finally put up that original Rothko you inherited or anything, but if you have lots of blank wall space, why not fill it?
You can decorate your walls with anything. Maps, photographs, old postcards. I have a penchant for space-related posters and charts. You could put up old movies posters (ask at independent theatres if they keep their old posters, and if they have any you can take). If you can find an antique market near where you live, a quick browse there could give you lots of ideas.
It’s a way of decorating your place, sure, but these are the kinds of things that make the place you live your home. It’s glimpses into your personality, your interests and likes, and it adds character to a place that could very well be boring.
You ever have that moment where you’re walking through your apartment and something just smells…off? Nine times out of ten it’s the garbage you’ve been meaning to take out for like, three days, or it’s your neighbours experimenting with cooking again. I’m a person who likes my apartment to smell good, if I can help it. I’ll open windows to get fresh air inside, I’ll spray Febreeze all over my pillows and I’ll light candles.
Candles are my way of adding a little extra to my apartment. They’re a really nice touch on a cool, rainy day and I always have one going when I’m expecting company. It’s the perfect way for people to assume you have your life together.
If you’re scared of fire or candles in general are not a good option for you, may I recommend diffusers, a flame-free way to bring scent into your space. If you don’t like artificial scents at all, there’s the option of sticking some bounce sheets into choice places: one in your bed, tucked into the sofa, behind a pillow.
Last but to leas,t may I reinforce, do not underestimate the power of opening a window. Getting a breeze going through a stuffy apartment is like an I.V. for the soul.
4. Revamping Your Furniture
No one can afford new furniture. Or at least some of us can’t. Most of the apartments I lived in while at university came with their living room and dining room furniture already there, and at the time that was a godsend.
If you are living at a place where the furniture was already there, or you’ve bought your own older, maybe second-hand stuff, there are still so many ways to make them seem new. Re-varnish your dining room table, or at least throughly clean it. Get a cover for your sofa, or even use a cool curtain you found at Value Village. This is especially helpful in covering up mysterious stains on couches.
If you have some cash to spare, pick up some throw pillows or a blanket to add some comfort to the living room. These things are also helpful in the event of unexpected overnight guests.
If your bed is feeling a bit old or unappealing, consider some new pillowcases or a duvet cover. You don’t have to break bank on bedding. There are so many places you can find affordable and nice stuff, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Society6, Urban Outfitters and yes, Ikea.
Every apartment has something akin to The Corner or The Chair, a place where everything that does not have a place winds up. It can be an eyesore in your space and is a black hole of miscellaneous paraphernalia. Event though you know what lies there, you can never seem to find it.
Storage solutions doesn’t sound fun. It sounds like buying a giant plastic bin and putting everything in that bin and leaving it in a closet somewhere.
What it can be is reusing items you already have or finding inexpensive alternatives for storing things. Leftover baskets or containers from market produce can be washed and used to store small things. At one of my old apartments, I kept my books in milk crates that I stacked on their sides to create a makeshift bookshelf. When you hit the bottom of a candle, freeze it and then scrape out the wax so you can use it as storage for jewellery, hair accessories, anything you need.
And if all of this is sounding a bit too crafty, I will once again defer to the ever-wonderful Value Village, or any local thrift store, where you can find storage baskets, containers and old shelving units. When it comes to fixing up your apartment on a budget, secondhand is the only way to go. But also watch out for secondhand furniture that may be haunted. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I am saying I’ve seen Oculus and you were warned.
Simeon Posen, the famed Canadian architectural and landscape photographer, needs little introduction. With works spanning over four decades, two grants from Canada Council for the Arts, and the recent inclusion of The Iran Collection into the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection, Posen’s consolidated his position as one of Canada’s most respected photographers.
Posen is easy to talk to; the type of man one says of afterwards, He looks at you right in your eye. When I met him briefly at Liss Gallery in Yorkville — where you can see a selection of works from the Iran Collection — to discuss the exhibit, Posen was preparing for the opening night in the midst of his associates and admirers. We sat down among the hubbub of the preparation, surrounded by images of mosques, faraway lands, and markets.
Hoon: How did the Iran Collection come to be a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection?
Simeon Posen: We were at the MET, visiting, and my partner said that we should contact the museum and show them the work. So after a number of phone calls, I eventually got to the right person, and he came down with one of his associates who was one of the associate curators. And they saw the photos and said, These are beautiful photographs and we want them. It was as simple as that.
H: Could you tell us a bit about your time spent in Iran in the ’70s?
S: I was there for two and a half months — there’s actually a map there where you can see how I went around. I went from North to South and from East to West. I was visiting to look at the extraordinary architecture of the country. Iran’s one of those countries where pretty much you can go anywhere and see something phenomenal. It’s not like northern Ontario where you can drive for three days and only see trees [laughs].
H: It’s interesting that you mention Northern Ontario. You’ve also photographed farmhouses, which aren’t necessarily buildings we look at as architectural feats.
S: As an architect, I look for simplicity, rhythm, patterns, lines. They’re not that unrelated. When photographing something like the Persepolis, it’s pretty hard not to take a beautiful photo. With something a little simpler and basic, you may need to work a little harder to find a composition you like. I’m not really interested in city buildings or new buildings — not that there aren’t some wonderful ones.
H: Part of the reason why the exhibit seems timely is because it feels, in regards to the turmoil in the Middle East, in part like an act of preservation. Did you have that in mind when you were photographing in Iran?
S: No. I photographed them because they were beautiful buildings and because I’m interested in them as such and extraordinary structures. That dome there [points to the above photograph], if you look at it, you’ll see that it starts at the top as an octagon and it spreads out until it hits 32 points or so at the bottom. It’s phenomenal design. Phenomenal construction, apparently built without scaffolding. It’s incredible feats of ingenuity and design — that’s what I’m interested in. The fact that they are universal expressions is wonderful and I’m glad to know that. But that wasn’t what I was there for.
H: One of your influences is Ansel Adams, the famous landscape photographer. Could you describe to us his influence on your work?
S: The beauty of the world expressed in architecture or landscape is fantastic. His landscapes are unbelievable and beautifully done, of course. But he was an inspiration because I was having trouble developing prints at that time. I was getting prints of very high contrast and…I just…basically, I gave up. I was at a school in the States and one of my friends there said, You should read one of Ansel Adam’s books on how to make an exposure called the Zone System. So I went into Phoenix and bought the book. The Zone System is a brilliant observation on how highlight and shadow work in relation to film. So I was reading along one particular page, scratching my head, and got to the bottom of it where there was a little asterisk that said, Don’t give up, go back [laughs]. So I went back, about twenty times, until I finally understood what he was talking about, which was the relationship of highlight to shadow; and the nine steps most film have between the darkest dark and the brightest bright. When you have that knowledge, you can start designing your negatives.
H: Could you take us through your creative process?
S: It’s simpler than you think. I taught a course a number of years ago at Toronto Image Works and all I said to people was — and this may sound corny — when you’re out someplace, if something catches your eye, that’s where you put the lens and make the photograph. It’s no more complicated than that. That changes as you change, but the best and the hard thing to do is to not think about it. If there’s something you want to explore, do so, but try not to think about it so much; instead, try to be intuitive about it. That’s the approach: put your lens right where your eye is.
H: So don’t think about compositions and whatnot?
S: Don’t think about it. Don’t look for the s curve and the rule of thirds and all those horrible things they teach you at camera class. I remember, many years ago when I was a kid, I showed a collection of the things that you do for composition to an artistic cousin — there was the s curve, the crosses, all the things that make a “good photograph.” And my cousin, he closed the book and said, Just go out and take pictures [laughs]. So that’s my advice. Stop thinking about and just enjoy it.
H: You photograph in black and white. Is there a reason for your preference?
S: Black and white has a way of abstracting things. There are wonderful color photographers whose works I admire, but I don’t know if I particularly think like that. But the uninspiring answer is that thirty or forty years ago, color was really hard to do; you needed perfect temperature control, all kinds of stuff. So even if I wanted to get into it, it was very difficult. It’s the difference between watercolor and oil painting — you have to know and look for different things.
H: Do you have any photograph in the collection you like in particular?
S: The answer is no. I once asked a friend of mind who has two kids, Which kid do you prefer? The answer was, It depends on the day [laughs]. Yes, there may be some days when I look at a photo and think, I really like that one. But on the next day, I’d really like another. I guess, maybe, I’d lean toward certain ones to a certain degree, but they are all like children. The attitude toward making the photograph in one location to another isn’t that much different.
H: I’ve heard that you developed the Iran photographs in the hotel bathroom made into a makeshift darkroom. Why the sense of urgency?
S: It’s a fair question. I was concerned, and in those days, security wasn’t like now — though it may be worse now. It was very erratic. I was worried that somebody was going to say, What’s in the box? Open it up. Nobody did as it turned it out. A box of developed films isn’t going to care if you open it, but a box of undeveloped ones… your whole trip is ruined. Or even when traveling around, if the box opens up, the films are ruined. There was a lot of anxiety about it.
Simeon Posen’s The Iran Collection will be on view at Yorkville’s Liss Gallery at 112 Cumberland Street until May 27th.
Fashion and art have always worked hand in hand like a hall of mirrors. When one creates something, the other reflects it. For centuries, art and fashion have danced with one another. Creating memorable images in either fabric or paint form. When I chose to venture into art and fashion in the first “Art x Fashion” article, the comparisons made between the artwork’s and the clothing was based on colour, print, pattern, etc. Now, the comparisons are based on some of the most stunning gowns ever painted throughout history.
Ann Demeulemeester x Thomas Hudson
Until recently, black was a coloured reserved for mourning, not elegance. So when it came to finding a gown that matched today’s modern obsessions with the shade, a deep dive into the world of classical art was the only way to go about it. Luckily, I stumbled upon Thomas Hudson‘s beautiful painting “Portrait of Lady Frances Courtenay, wife of William Courtenay, 1st Viscount Courtenay” which showcases its main subject wearing a beautiful black gown. The sheen on the black fabric, white ruffled collar, and sleeves was mirrored by a look that walked the runway at Ann Demeulemeester this season, which featured a black dress and white shirt. The two gowns almost look like doorways. One leading to the past, the other, the future.
Loewe x Giovanni Boldini
Powder blue, not only was it named the colour of the year last year (along with rose quartz) It has steadily filtered its way through everything from fashion, to home decor, and even car colours. What sets this colour apart from other blues on the lighter spectrum is its softness, its cleanliness, its elegance, and it’s ability to remain an extremely dominant colour without looking juvenile. At Loewe, a stunning powder blue gown came down the runway looking like a clown in the wind. Immediately Giovanni Boldini came to mind. The effortless brush strokes of the blue dress in Boldini’s “Madame Charles Max” look as light as air, mirroring the billowing blue gown on the runway.
Calvin Klein x Thomas Cooper Gotch
Gold is one of those colours that will always be associated with royalty. It represents the thrown, the sun, wealth, extravagance, and the God-given right to rule a kingdom. In Thomas Coop Gotch‘s painting “The Lady in Gold,” we can see how gold plays a vital role in creating an elegant and domineering atmosphere. Not only is the dress itself a beautiful hue of yellow gold, the entire painting itself is painted in various hues of warm yellow. Giving the woman in the painting a sense of sheer importance and status. At Calvin Klein, A stunning gold coat walked the runway. The gold fabric and cleave PVC overlay looked made the garment look like liquid gold. Twisting and swirling onto itself. Truly a modern take on an old royal favourite.
Gucci x Frans Verhas
Call it lilac, periwinkle, or lavender, or aubergine, but no colour can match the unbridled intensity of purple. Which screams “look at me!” regardless of which hue is being shown. In Frans Verhas “The New Bracelet,” a soft lilac jumps out from the canvas against a neutral background. It’s clear that the intention of the painting was o put the gown itself into focus while letting the background fade away. And what a perfect colour to do just that. However, at Gucci, this purple gown was one of the only colours that was featured entirely by itself. The dominant colour creates a mesmerising look that needs little more than a lustre in the fabric itself to stand out. Just like Frans Painting, this Gucci dress captures the eye and lets the background fade away.
Chika Kisada x William Ross
What do you think of when you think of pink? For me, I see candy, extravagance, sugar, delicateness, and power. Now, most people would agree with candy and delicateness, but why power and extravagance? It’s simple, pink is one of the strongest colours on the colour wheel. It gives off an intensity without ever experiencing any muteness in its hues. Whether it’s baby pink or fuschia, pink lights a fire unlike any other colour on the spectrum. In William Ross‘ “Princess Feodora of Hohenlohe-Langenburg,” we can see that even though the pink chosen for the gown is the softest imaginable, it still draws the eye to it. Dominating everything around it in the painting. This is also the case with this stunning pink dress at Chika Kisada aw17. The mix of bubblegum pink and dusty rose creates levels of excitement and interest in the dress. Pulling your eyes towards the harness on the model’s chest, and drawing it all the way down to the train.
Disorientation is normal; it’s never been easy to cope. But goddamn it if the levels haven’t reached that final boss level these days. These five artists don’t really talk about the Saturday Night Massacre or James Comey, but they are fantastic as reflections of feelings of dislocation.
Anselm Kiefer was born in Germany in 1945 and raised in towns near the east bank of the Rhine; he is a child of post-war Europe, its devastation, guilt, poverty, and politics and culture of national identity crisis. To look at the scale and the depth of Kiefer’s landscape is to stare at a an unpromising and faraway horizon. The poppies throughout promise momentary escapes.
On a lighter note, Edward Steed, the New Yorker cartoonist, goes to Japan in his Japan Baseball Sketchbook and finds himself a little disoriented, a little fascinated. His sometimes careless and sometimes weirdly detailed and often hilarious style carries the confusion and fun of the foreigner in a foreign land well. Perhaps it is the romantic baseball audience inside that sees in Steed’s illustrations a sense of loneliness. It’s a little like, if I were forced to make a comparison, Lost in Translation for baseball lovers. Let’s go Nippon-Ham Fighters!
Winnie t. Frick
From Winnie t. Frick’s website: “Winnie t. Frick is a comic artist & illustrator based in n.y. She is a pseudonym for another woman, or perhaps she is simply a mirror reflecting the spirit animal of blissfully giving up.” Her detailed and intriguing illustrations, portraits, and comics have been featured in Guernica and Capilano Review, among others. Go read otherpeopleproblems. It’s quiet and reflective. Sad in an enveloping and directionless way. Angst, so to speak, that didn’t go away with the pimples.
Sara Cwynar is a Canadian-born visual artist who seem to be concerned with the lives of objects or visual representations of objects. Her series, Three Hands, Encyclopedia Grids, and Flat Death, offer visions of objects reimagined and visual representations — of celebrities, products, etc — re-presented. Kitsch, or objects that prop up dust in time and never, seemingly, return to nature so much as become foreign interjections in them, or live again ‘re-purposed’ is, considering the amount of plastic produced and dumped and the duration it takes for it to ‘disappear,’ and our relatively recent dependence on it and relative impermanence to it, depressing. Cwynar’s works makes you stop to ruminate.
The renowned conceptual artist Sophie Calle recently finished her 25-year-long public art work called Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemeteryin Brooklyn, New York. The work consists of a marble obelisk with a slot into which visitors can slide in secrets. Calle will return periodically to the famed cemetery to exhume the secrets and to ceremonially cremate them. Symbolically free yourself from your darkest secrets and thoughts.
If you are a photographer with many years of work under your belt, you often can accredit your success to a specific genre or a type of photography. Photographers such as Frank Horvat have exceeded these expectations and brought forth a degree of experience and talent that anyone in the industry can aspire to. Frank has worked as a photographer for over 70 years and has photographed a variety of subjects, landscapes, and objects. He began his career when he was fifteen when he swapped his stamp collection for a 35mm Retinamat camera. Through the years, Frank has had a variety of exhibitions. In the 1960s Frank travelled between Paris, London, and New York, and worked for publications such as Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar.
Through his career, Frank experienced the ever-changing landscape of photography and reflected them in his work, switching from film to digital imaging. In 2010, Frank created HORVATLAND, an iPad application dedicated to his works.
Most recently, Frank has brought his exhibition, ‘Please Don’t Smile’ to Izzy Gallery in Toronto. The exhibit is an amalgamation of his favourite photos from his 30-year span as a fashion photographer. Izzy Gallery represents a variety of established photographers, and through Izzy’s close collaboration with the artists, he is able to display the best of their works by hand selecting from the artists’ archives. Izzy has worked closely with Frank on bringing ‘Please Don’t Smile’ to Toronto, and it is because of their relationship that Frank has attended one of his first gallery openings in North America in the past 14 years.
“Izzy, with you I understood what it was like for Picasso and Matisse and Braque to have the art dealers they had: people who cared as much about the work as they cared about the money, to the point that they often kept the best for themselves. All my life I was hoping to find that dealer, and now I found you.” – Frank Horvat
We had the opportunity to sit down with Frank and discuss the exhibit, his career, and the importance of “tiny miracles” within his work.
Kimberley Drapack: What does the title, ‘Please Don’t Smile’ mean to you in regards to the exhibit?
Frank Horvat: I like it when something means more than one thing at a time. It means two or three things, and people get a bit lost. “Please Don’t Smile” is one thing I told the models when I photographed them, not because I didn’t want them to look happy, because I didn’t want a phony happiness of smiling for the photograph. If someone smiles because he or she is really happy, that’s fine, but if you smile just because you produce a smile for the photograph, I don’t like it.
When you say, “Please Don’t Smile,” you suggest that it is something to smile about. So, there’s this suggestion, and it works in several ways.
K: You’ve been working as a photographer for over 70 years. Can you tell us a bit about your experience?
FH: No, I became a fashion photographer by accident. I was a fashion photographer for about 30 years, and now it’s been more than 30 years and I haven’t taken a single fashion photograph. I don’t really wish to be labelled as a fashion photographer.
In spite of what is true, my fashion photographs are the part of my work which sells a lot. Many people like and use them and put them on their walls. So yes, I live off that reputation of being a fashion photographer, but I often like to insist and underline that I am not really a fashion photographer. I’m interested in other areas of photography, and other areas of life. It’s not my main thing.
This being said, I am very happy with this exhibition here with the fashion photographs, [Please Don’t Smile] because they are consistent and well exhibited, and I like the idea of my work being shown in Canada. So, I am very happy. I have no criticism at all.
I think the main reason I became a fashion photographer was because I was interested in photographing good looking girls and I loved directing them. On the other hand, my idea about photography has always been this: a good photograph is a photograph that cannot be redone. You get it once, and you never get it again. A good photograph is a kind of miracle.
Which is very much the opposite of fashion photography. In fashion photography, you have a situation: you choose a model, you choose a dress, you choose a location, and you go there and you take not one, but three or twenty rows of photos to get it exactly right. There is something where you say, you’ve done it, but it can be done again. It’s prepared and directed.
I didn’t want that kind of fashion photography. I always found a way of creating a situation where things happened that could not happen again.
(Frank refers to a photograph on the wall where a model stands next to a horse) This was my first fashion photograph when I was less than 20 years old. I didn’t know how to direct a model. She did very well, but the dress wasn’t particularly good and the composition was ok, but not more than ok. But that horse, the movement, and the profile with the silhouette against the sky — that will never happen again. Which I didn’t direct. The reason why I like that photograph is because something happened that I couldn’t get again.
I like to say that it was a tiny miracle. These kinds of miracles became more and more difficult. As I was getting more clever, things started to become more preconceived and things didn’t just happen by accident. In a way, the further I got, the more clever I became, the more difficult it became.
The conclusion, is that I in fact, didn’t take many good fashion photographs. There may have been 30, maybe 40 but certainly not 60, because those miracles didn’t happen as often.
Izzy made this exhibition with my fashion photographs but if he wanted to make a secondary exhibition with other fashion photographs, I wouldn’t have any to give him… not any that I really liked. They are really special in that sense and it’s through that logic that I care for my fashion photography.
K: How would you describe ‘Please Don’t Smile’?
FH: For a time, I was almost ashamed of being a fashion photographer. I thought it was something futile, to the point that there were a lot of photographs that I destroyed. Now that I see them together, I am bit reconciled with them, because I do realize that, in the case of these photographs, each one is a little bit of a miracle. I am thankful for these miracles.
To give you an example, look at this photograph, with the feather. (Frank points to a photograph where a small boy is holding a feather that covers a models face) When I started this sitting, I didn’t have any idea that I would do this photograph. The model was wearing a dress that I didn’t think was very interesting, she wasn’t particularly beautiful, and maybe I wasn’t particularly in the mood. I was trying to find something that would make the situation interesting. My son was around and I told him not to come close to the model, and that he could maybe play with his feather. The photograph was made because of a lucky moment when he had the feather just in front of her face, so that you didn’t see her face very clearly, but you saw it just enough. One second, not something that I set up, or that I could have set up, but something that just happened, and I caught. This was, a little miracle.
K: Do you remember your earlier years of photography?
FH: That’s the advantage of photography that helps you to remember. There were a lot of things that happened in my life, different points, which I have completely forgotten. When they’re photographed, and if I’ve handled them, printed it, or sold it or published it, I of course remember them.
K: I notice that the entire exhibit is in black and white.
FH: They were in black and white, because at that time, film was in black in white, and magazines published photographs in black and white.
Later, colour came, and I used colour. There was no preference.
K: On that note, it wasn’t until the ‘90s until you started working with digital imaging. Was it a big transition?
FH: I’m all for digital imaging, but it wasn’t so much the digital that changed, but Photoshop that changed. Even before, people used to manipulate images, but with digital, it became easier and you had more control. At the same time, it became more necessary with colour. With colour, there were more things that could be disturbing. If you’re on a street in New York, and there is a yellow cab, and you didn’t need the colour yellow, you could weaken the brightness. Manipulating photographs became a necessity.
K: Did you find that was a big aspect of your fashion photography in general?
FH: It was a big aspect. The interesting thing is it was the kind of opposite of my research of “the happy accident.” On one hand, I was waiting for the happy accident, and on the other hand I was trying to get rid of the unhappy accidents. To make a selection between what I considered a happy accident to what I considered a not-so happy accident.
K: The colour distortion is then to focus on certain aspects of a photo?
FH: I would say that every photograph is a choice among millions of possibilities. When there is so much that happens around you and you decide to frame one part of it, and take a shot of one moment among others, so you always choose. If I photograph in the street of Toronto, I pick my angle, my frame and my moment, out of a million more angles, frames and moments that I don’t pick. It’s always choosing.
K: If you’re not forced to have an emotion, it can create a more range of emotion, or natural state.
FH: It’s certain that the conventional smile is not something that you are pleased about. If the person has a conventional smile for you, you don’t really appreciate it. If I know it’s a conventional smile, it doesn’t mean anything to me.
K: You had not only a great success within your fashion photography, but your work expands to multiple genres, perspectives, and subjects. Was this something that was important to you within your work, or did it happen naturally?
FH: I think if I can see or show something that is meaningful to other people, it’s satisfying. If what I see or show, is just a repeat of something that has been said or shown many times, its less satisfying. To give an example, at one point, I made an exhibition about trees. There was something a little different about the way I showed them, and someone said to me, “after seeing your photographs, I look at trees in a different way.” That was positive. I thought it was worth doing.
With everything I photograph, I try to find a way of doing it as it hasn’t been shown before. If I take your portrait, I’ll probably take it in a way that you will think you look ugly in the portrait. You would mean it, because you don’t look the way you like to look when you look at yourself in the mirror. It may happen, that three or thirty years from now, you look at this photograph I took of you and you think that after all, you didn’t look so bad. That would make me happy.
We all have a way of looking at yourselves in a mirror and criticizing what we think is not perfect, or what we have a complex about. The woman I love said to me the other day, “I really have a big nose, you shouldn’t show my nose.” I said to her, “your nose is exactly what is interesting about you, and maybe one day you will realize it if I show it, because I love it and think it’s beautiful.” So that’s for me a good reason to take a photograph.
K: You find the beauty in people that they don’t necessarily see in themselves.
FH: Not only people, but you can find beauty anywhere that people didn’t see.
K: How do you choose the subjects of your fashion photography?
FH: When I was doing fashion photography, models used to telephone and come to an appointment and show me their book. If I liked their voice, I said yes, come. I thought that if I liked their voice, I thought there must be something beautiful about them that I could show.
K: And for your portraits?
FH: For me, if I photograph a face in the street of a person that I don’t know, I wouldn’t call it a portrait. It’s a close-up of the face. I call it a portrait when I have a definite idea about a person, and I try to show this at the end of the photograph.
If I photograph you, I wouldn’t call it a portrait, because I don’t know you. If I knew something about you, even a small thing, something I can find in a small conversation, or something you’ve told me once, it would mean that I have some idea about you and if I photograph, I will try to show my preconceived idea about you. To me, that is a portrait.
K: In the ‘80s, when you were in New York, you released your series, ‘New York, Up and Down.’ What was that process like?
FH: That was a product of New York. It could have just been a patch of dirt on the pavement. For some reason, I associated that exhibit with what I found to be important about New York. It could be anything – not just the beautiful landscape, but the setting.
It was mainly a feeling in New York where everything is really dense, a lot of things become really close together. Very often, they mix quite well.
I came to New York for a few weeks and it made the exhibit into an emotion. If I had stayed there all the time, it probably would have been less of an emotion.
K: Do you have a different processes when photographing a model as opposed taking a personal portrait of a family member or friend?
FH: The thing with photography is that it’s made out of two very opposed elements and sources. On one hand, you have your own imagination of what you think about the person or situation, and which you would like to express. For instance, there is a young child which is born to my wife, which is my child and I see them for the first time. I have all sort of expectations and imaginations before I photograph that child. On the other hand, the actual face of the child says something that has nothing to do with my expectation and brings something which I didn’t expect and I didn’t even want to show.
When I think of photographing my grandchild as a newborn, I thought he looked like a little old man. So, it brings something that wasn’t what I wanted to show and comes into the photograph. I then look at the screen, and say, “this maybe how he will look 50 years from now.” There’s what I want to show, and what people, things, or situations will show about themselves. What’s so fascinating about a photograph is that the two come together.
In the photograph with the girl with the horse, there was a girl who was there to show her dress, and was paid for it. There was the horse, who was there for his own reasons, and brought another message. It’s this meeting of two things, which is interesting.
Don’t forget to check out Frank Horvat’s exhibit at Izzy Gallery, located at 1255 Bay Street. You can see more of Horvat’s works on his personal website, HORVATLAND. Continue following our arts & culture coverage on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.