Emergence is the most recent photographic work by Louisville-based artist and graphic designer Julius Friedman. Perhaps best known for over thirty years of graphic design and more abstract and landscape work, this series marks the artist’s first exploration of figurative photography.
Emergence is a harmonious blend of digital layering and nude portraiture that suggest a non-representational reading of the photographic image. By incorporating abstract designs, scenes from nature, hieroglyphics or tribal symbols, Friedman is able to blur the lines of portraiture rendering his nude models almost unrecognizable. What is recognizable becomes mysterious and allows the viewer to investigate each piece’s subtlety.
Aside from being a graphic designer, photographer and professional artist, Julius Friedman has been the co-owner of Chapman Friedman Gallery, Louisville for over 30 years. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, in addition to a solo show at the National Museum of Poster Art, Poland. A recent publication of Images and Ideas: Julius Friedman (2008, Butler Books) is available at the 21c Museum Shop.
In these photographs the human figure is encased in several layers of surface and pattern. The image of the figure is so married into the other layers that it almost seems to emerge or materialize from them, creating sometimes, mysterious or ghostlike imagery. I am very interested in the creation of surface as much as the image itself. And because the photographs are printed on raw aluminum, a highly reflective surface, yet another layer is created by the viewer as he/she provides another image with their own reflection. More questions arise; is the viewer a participant or is the viewer a voyeur in these intimate portraits.
Some will look at my work and come up with ideas and opinions, which will have nothing to do with my own interpretation – that is really my intent with all my work. It is important for the viewer to bring their own experiences and associations and create their own story. It is not what one looks at, it is what one sees.
-Julius Friedman, 2009