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Making | Jan Hardisty: Artist or Photographer?

This week's Making post showcases the unusual work of 'artist with a camera' Jan Hardisty. With exceptional vision and creativity, Hardisty prepares and arranges everyday objects and paper cut-outs into striking compositions and photographs them with his large format camera.

This insightful short film introduces us to his painstaking methods and the effects he wishes to achieve by challenging the boundaries between art and photography.

Jan-Hardisty-Artist-Photographer-White-Spoon'White Spoon'

Hardisty's appraoch is meticulous, carefully placing objects in his abstract still lifes and adjusting hanging pieces of card until the composition appears just right in his viewfinder.

No digital editing is performed on the images - Hardisty prefers to use natural light and the effects achieved by subtle adjustments to his photographic equipment. Once a photograph is taken, the image is complete and printed exactly as it appeared in his studio.


Jan-Hardisty-Artist-Photographer-Composition-With-Red(above) 'Strong Yellow and Folded Paper'; (below) 'Composition with Red'

Hardisty's images are made purposefully to sit between abstraction and real life and to push the boundaries of visual understanding; the viewer can recognise the shapes and textures of the individual components in his photographs, but together they combine to form strange and surreal compositions, playing with light and perspective.


Jan-Hardisty-Artist-Photographer-Hanging-By-A-Thread(above) 'Looking for Morandi'; (below) 'Hanging by a Thread'

In Hardisty's work one can see the influence of M. C. Escher, the surrealist René Magritte, and, further back in time, the architectural artist G. B. Piranesi, as well as avant-garde architecture of the 1950s and '60s.

Part of Hardisty's own artistic challenge in these images is to portray ostensibly three-dimensional objects with two-dimensional pieces of paper - to make monumental and architectural forms from mere sheets of card. In one series of images, Hardisty restricts himself with a self-imposed rule: to create convincing three-dimensional compositions using paper shapes folded only once.


Jan-Hardisty-Artist-Photographer-Double-Image(above) 'Rectangle'; (below) 'Double Image'

Though in his occupation as a theatrical lighting designer Hardisty works exclusively with artificial lighting, in his art only natural light is used, leaving him to rely on his keen eye for shadow and tone to achieve desired variations in light quality.

Quite apart from restricting him, these various disciplines - natural light, no digital editing, folding paper only once - force Hardisty to rely solely upon his sense of composition for the impact of his images, resulting in work that is exquisitely balanced and powerfully enigmatic.


Jan-Hardisty-Artist-Photographer-House-And-Garden(above) 'Screen'; (below) 'House and Garden'

Hardisty's work bridges the gap between the often conflicting worlds of art and photography, exploiting the tension between the two genres to produce works that with a sense of illusion and mystery. Click through below to view more of his prints on our website.


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