Artist of the Week : Matthew Pillsbury | Aesthetically Pleasing

Artist of the Week : Matthew Pillsbury

Jelly Fish, Coney Island Aquarium (Thursday, July 14th, 2005)

As a photographer I always enjoy coming across artists that ignite this creative spark in me. Nothing is more satisfying than studying and appreciating the work of others; it's quite odd but certainly not unusual. As I was scrolling down our Tumblr dashboard (check out our inspiration blog afterwards) I came across French photographer Matthew Pillsbury.

His long exposures immediately attracted me to his work. I was drawn my the mysteriousness and inviting ghost-like images that are seen in all his photographs such as The Unveiling of Titan's Presentation of Mary. As cliche and redundant as it sounds photography and any other art form has the gift of telling stories. There's no need for words, no need for spoken language - art is just that powerful. I can ramble with reasons why I'm forever fascinated by this gift, this truth. But what's most important is that Pillsbury's work showed me once again how this was possible.

The Unveiling of Titian’s Presentation of Mary, Gallerie dell’Accademia, 2012

Known for his particular interest in capturing city life one could understand why he would pick his hometown, New York City, as his muse. From people visiting a shopping center to angry citizens protesting against government corruption, Pillsbury makes use of New York City's dynamic vivacity to capture some astounding moments. 

“'In my own exploration of the city over the years, I’ve become both attached to some of its iconic places and structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge, but I’ve also taken a keen interest in the new additions, such as Jane’s Carousel and Brooklyn Bridge Park, that push the city to evolve while still reflecting its past. The extreme multiculturalism of New York City creates a heightened energy that few other cities possess, and its incredibly varied architecture mirrors that, creating a striking backdrop for my images.'”

Fausto, Washington Square Park (2011)
Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery.

   Jazz at Lincoln Center (2011)
  Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery.
What makes Pillsbury's photographs as profound as they are is in their depiction of motion in time. Pillsbury's technique of using hour-long exposures captures the movement of people and as a consequence small glimpses of movement and facial expressions are frozen in time. Time, as we all know, can be constant yet still. As paradoxical as it sounds this concept reminds us, reminds me that everyone leaves an enduring, fragile presence wherever they go even if it's just for a second. With Pillsbury's photographs we can see for ourselves how this still point exists; this magical, inexplicable moment is reality.  

In an interview (via email) with author David Rosenberg Pillsbury discussed the captivating nature of the ghost-like images. 

"'The ghostlike appearance of my subjects wasn’t something I set out to pursue,' explained Pillsbury. 'But I do find it fascinating to highlight the fragility, the evanescence of our lives. We are here only briefly. Every moment passing bringing us closer to our last. Much of photography is an attempt to stop the clock—to assert our presence: ‘I was here, I matter.’ Here, my photographs are doing something different: We are shown the fragility and fleeting nature of our presence.'"

The Year of the Dragon (2012)
 Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery.

Woody Allen and Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, Cafe Carlyle (2011)
  Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery.

    Zucotti Park, Occupy Wall Street, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011.
    Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery.

What do you like most about Pillsbury's work? 
Comment below with your thoughts!

- Genesis 

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