BankRI Galleries present:
“A Day in Havana: Photographs by David DeMelim,”
October 6 through November 2, 2016 at the BankRI Turks Head branch in downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place.
There will be a Gallery Night reception on October 20 from 5 to 8:30 pm with live music by guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments.
MEET THE ARTIST – DAVID DEMELIM
If you look closely you can see the camera, nestled quietly in the angle of his left arm. It’s almost always there ready for the moment, a constant presence in the life of photographer David DeMelim.
He came by his interest in photography naturally – his dad is a printmaker and his family enjoyed traveling and taking pictures. One day, the teenage DeMelim wandered into a junk shop that happened to have a box of cameras for sale. The cameras intrigued him and so, with his own money, he bought the assortment of cameras.
“The purchase of that collection, a large box of twenty or thirty cameras, opened up a whole variety of possibilities,” DeMelim recalls. “I learned that like a painters array of brushes, each camera has specific characteristics that effect how you shoot and the type of image you can capture.”
DeMelim’s photographs don’t look like other photographs. They exist on the fringes of photography, somewhere between printmaking and painting. Saturated color fields, high contrast abstracted shapes and lack of detail mark his work. “Born a hundred years or so earlier,” DeMelim says, “I have no doubt I would have been a painter.”
While familiar with the earliest iterations of photoshop, for DeMelim most of the magic happens at capture. Unlike others who take a photograph with a standard digital camera and adjust the images in their computer, DeMelim shoots his images with a camera containing modified software designed especially for him.
At one time DeMelim worked in the print industry. The digital explosion was just beginning and he was lucky enough to be able to work with software designers to create software that helped him realize a very specific photographic vision.
Digital cameras today treat every bit of information equally, every single pictoral detail perfectly delineated. That’s not how the human eye sees. When we look at a scene, we immediately distinguish what we personally think is important. That is what DeMelim does.
“Like items are grouped together and treated as one for the purpose of analysis,” DeMelim explains. “In this way contrast is adjusted to clarify the image, removing unnecessary information and providing clarity and focus to what I feel are the important picture elements.”
The photographs exhibited here at the BankRI Turks Head Gallery are a mixture of DeMelim’s high contrast work and other more traditional photographs taken on a recent trip to Cuba. In Cuba, DeMelim simply recorded his experiences. The resulting photographs display both the grandeur and the decay of this beautiful country. The rich colors, unexpected architecture and sumptuous compositions practically sing out.
“I wanted to show the rich diversity [of Cuba],” DeMelim explains, “not just the old cars. It was such a fascinating place, full of contradictions and unexpected juxtapositions. With so much to see and discover it was hard to focus on any one thing for very long, a true case of visual overload … rich colors, textures and patterns with everything in motion, even the buildings.”
The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.