ART AND THE PHOTOBOOTH

Lordan Bunch

WEBSITE

Lordan Bunch is an American painter who paints small, photo-realistic pantings based on photobooth photos. From a museum show guide, a description of Bunch:

Lordan Bunch collects photo booth photographs from the 1920s through the 1940s and creates small to midsize meticulously crafted photo-realistic oil paintings. Unlike Gardnerís close relation to his subjects, the sitterís anonymity in these found black and white pictures is important to Bunch as he adds color to give these forgotten people a sense of dignity and life. There is often a slight awkwardness to the sitterís expression as he or she stares into the reflective glass separating them from the booth camera. In one a boy smirks, trying not to laugh; in another, part of a manís face is cropped by the edge of the frame as if he had shifted when the shutter was released. There has always been a mystique around photo booth pictures, which might come from the fact that there is no photographer and no negative. The sitters are performing for themselves and even self-conscious people let their guard down behind the curtain.

And from a gallery description of Bunch's work:

Lordan Bunchís newest paintings depict sitters - mostly women - whose images were snapped in photo-booths in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Bunch sorted through his collection of hundreds of these photographs to find moments of intimacy or emotion that convey an imagined narrative to each frozen scene. Yet the story remains elusive; the anonymity of the sitter and the circumstances surrounding the moment will never be revealed. On the backs of several of these images were notes indicating time and place, or simply a name, simultaneously offering more information and deepening the mystery. The title of the show, C.I. 1929, was lifted from one: itís shorthand for the year it was taken and the place, Coney Island. Bunch often reproduces one of these handwritten notes in paint on a single canvas and forms a diptych along with the portrait (though he usually partners interesting text with a different person, fabricating his own tale and adding another layer of ambiguity). Along with the photo-booth paintings, Bunch will exhibit recent paintings based on early 20th Century medical textbooks in which the subjects suffer from psychological maladies. The images of these young men or boys are unsettling; you feel that something is a little off but the cause indeterminate. Much like the arcade photos, the subjects appear vulnerable and captive. This is the nature of most documentary photography. By painting these portraits, Bunch is immortalizing lives depicted in small inconsequential photographs, reversing their anonymity and illustrating their stories, contrived or not.

Contributed by Brian