As an addition to the recent London re-exhibition of his 1997 collection Flora, iconic British fashion photographer and artist Nick Knight created a new collection of innovative large-scale works that prove his talents won’t be wilting anytime soon. In a fresh take on sixteenth century still-life (think Marie Antoinette x 90s-grunge graffiti), Knight used a process that took him more than ten years to develop—a hybrid of photography and painting that consists of adding heat and water into the printing process. Although Knight’s floral arrangements in these works exemplify formal composition, his use of this new technique defies tradition. Through this unique printing process, Knight has engaged in the ultimate multi-media effort to create images that look like paintings but are actually photographs.
Orange Vertical, 2012
Pale Rose, 2012
By creating images of floral arrangements that appear to be melting and experiencing time, Knight invites the viewer to experience the documentation of a moment between the life and death of his subject, and to capture a moment in each work that acts as a freeze-frame. A freeze-frame of the constant flux that comprises our existence. As a history major, I am familiar with the constant and ever-complex analysis of a single moment in time. When reading through hundreds of pages of meticulous scholarship on a specific subject, I often wane melancholy about the fact that history is ultimately a subjective pursuit. Even a first-person account of an event can never fully capture the complexity of a single moment. Moreover, it is unable to represent the plethora of perspectives of those who were involved in its construction and existence. Considering the insurmountable intricacies of time and history, Knight’s attempt to encapsulate these constructs is both comforting and idealistic. Although it is arguable that the photographic medium itself is subjective in its portrayal of a subject, Knight’s agency in arranging, capturing, and distorting the subjects, displayed in these works, demonstrates human control and ability to harness these seemingly intangible factors of life. In doing so, Knight invites his viewers to become immersed in the frozen decadence of these images and to experience a world in which the impending inevitability of death can be escaped—if only for a moment—giving the viewer time to appreciate the beauty of life.
Emma Hoffman, Arts Editor
Images are from Nick Knight’s website.