Monday, January 19, 2009

ArtBuzz: Photographer's work at palmbeach3 intrigues

Nathalia Edenmont with her large photograph, Lost.
(Photos by Katie Deits)


By Katie Deits

WEST PALM BEACH -- The fine-art world on both sides of the Atlantic is making a fuss over Nathalia Edenmont.

The Ukranian-born artist's photographs have a dreamlike feeling, full of symbolism and metaphor. She creates a sense of intimacy with the viewer, as if you have been invited to step inside her psyche. She poses questions about the treatment of women in society, gender relationships, and coming of age in a way that has caused her reputation to soar at galleries in Europe and the United States.

Edenmont's work was on display last week at the palmbeach3 contemporary art fair, which closed Sunday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The Wetterling Gallery of Stockholm, Sweden, sponsored Edenmont’s exhibition.

In the series on display at palmbeach3, Edenmont's subject is an innocent-looking 14-year-old girl with curly red hair and a wide-eyed expression, much like the artist herself. Edenmont told me that she lost her parents at a young age (her mother at 14), left Russia and moved to Sweden, where she now lives.


Edenmont stands in front of her Self-Portrait (Deathbed).

The sense of loss and longing in the photographs is palpable. In one of them, Self-Portrait (Deathbed), the young model is shown sitting next to the artist posed as the deceased. suggesting that this part of her died along with her mother. Edenmont said her work is autobiographical, and that she wanted also to capture the soul of her model.

Edenmont was trained in art and design but had no training in photography. She knows what concept she wants to express, though, and uses three assistants who operate the large-format 8-by-10 camera. Her work is created in small editions of six mural-sized C-prints, and she personally oversees the production of the printing, mounting and framing at a Swedish photographic lab.

Meanwhile, photography was also the subject of a panel discussion Saturday.

Left to right: Edward Yee, Kate Stevens, Luis Gutierrez, Lauren Socol and Marvin Mordes. (Photo by Maria Gilmour)

Edward J. Yee, vice president of Penelope Dixon & Associates, moderated the discussion on photography collection, which included Kate Stevens, director of HackelBury Fine Art in London, and photography collectors Luis Gutierrez, Lauren Socol and Marvin Mordes.

“The first thing that has to call to me is the image and the medium — after that is the price,” said Gutierrez, who with his wife has been collecting photography for 25 years with a focus on Puerto Rican and Latin American art. “When you come to the fairs, it is usually the most recent body of work of the artist, but maybe there are others that you would be interested in.”

Gutierrez said he usually buys two pieces by artists he's interested in.

Socol, a resident of New York and Miami who has been collecting contemporary and late 20th-century photography for 22 years, also said the question of value came second to the artistic impression made by the work.

“All art is truly the expression of oneself,” Socol said. “When people look at your collection, they are also looking at you ... I never collect as an investment, but because the image means something to me.”

Professional appraisers and dealers have a slightly different task.

Stevens said her gallery “provides a bridge between artist and collectors, coordinating studio visits, introductions to curators and writers, creating a rounded experience for people to learn and explore how they want to build their collections.”

When that collector buys something from an artist, he or she has entered into something more than just an investment, she said.

“As a collector, you are sustaining the artist. It’s not just about acquiring objects, you are in a partnership in supporting that artist — a patron," Stevens said. "And (you're) also sharing that artist with other people — friends, family and the general public — encouraging collectors to keep collecting.”

Finding the right art for your taste requires more than just seeking out experts, Mordes said.

“The key is you have to read, visit museums, go to galleries, talk to people. It's a long process…Have a focus on what you want to do… Seek it, find it, see it, and the excitement will be yours," said Mordes of West Palm Beach, who with his wife Elayne is a longtime collector of contemporary art. "At the fair, talk to the dealers who are selling the work — they’re in business, but they are also offering an education."

Venues such as palmbeach3 contemporary art fair provide extraordinary opportunities to see and purchase contemporary art as it makes its debut, to listen to lectures from experts in the field, and to talk to dealers and artists personally and in depth about the work. And it happens every year here in Palm Beach County.


From left: Stephen Mooney, president of Richard Plumer Design in Palm Beach, and graphic designer Scott Velozo, with the glass sculptures of Jon Kuhn
at the booth for Boca Raton's Habatat Galleries.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

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