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L.A. photographer captures nature's beauty and truth, but not all is what it seems

L.A. photographer captures nature's beauty and truth, but not all is what it seems
"Carving 12," 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 60 inches by 75 inches. (Acme gallery)

The work of Los Angeles photographer Amir Zaki suggests that the world is too complex a place for its nature to be conveyed in a single way or by a single point of view. If truth and beauty are to be discovered, as the ancient Greeks believed, a multilayered, many-sided approach is required.

"Rock 34," 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 49 inches by 49 inches.
"Rock 34," 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 49 inches by 49 inches. (Amir Zaki / Acme gallery)

Zaki, who is represented by Acme gallery in Los Angeles, recently showed two paths to beauty. For his “Rocks” series, black and white photographs depict dramatically silhouetted outcroppings along the California coast, from Orange to Mendocino counties. Shot against gray skies at high tide, these tiny islands have the presence of huge abstract sculptures, every nook and cranny providing evidence of powerful forces at work.

“Carving 4,” 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 30 inches x 37 inches.
“Carving 4,” 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 30 inches x 37 inches. (Amir Zaki / Acme gallery)

Zaki’s “Carvings” series similarly isolate organic forms against neutral backdrops. But what appear to be solid chunks of wood that have been meticulously carved to resemble rolling waves, seed pods or the shells of fantastic sea creatures are actually flat planks that Zaki has photographed, uploaded and digitally manipulated. The work of a virtuoso wood carver is delivered via virtual virtuosity.

To stand back and scan the two series is to flip from close-up to far off, from still life to landscape, from abstraction to representation, from carefully cropped coast to carefully lighted wood, from eons of erosion to nanoseconds of electronic transmissions.

There is beauty in all of the above. And truth.

“Rock 29,” 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 65 inches x 60 inches.
“Rock 29,” 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 65 inches x 60 inches. (Amir Zaki / Acme gallery)
"Carving 8," 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 60 inches by 75 inches.
"Carving 8," 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 60 inches by 75 inches. (Amir Zaki / Acme gallery)
"Rock 6, " 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 39 inches by 49 inches.
"Rock 6, " 2016, framed ultrachrome archival pigment photograph with UV coating, 39 inches by 49 inches. (Amir Zaki / Acme gallery)

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