Gerald Incandela: Equine Expressions


Conceptually merging drawing and photography, Incandela subverts the supposed truth of the camera by manipulating its evidence.  Breaking from the limitations of the traditional photographic format – the rectangular sheet filled edge to edge with a single image, the subject shot from a single angle – Incandela gives emphasis to the importance of the artist’s hand in his work. Revitalizing the traditions of the hand developed prints pulled by the photographer each of his prints exists as a unique, master photograph.

In the darkroom, Incandela radically alters the image captured by the lens of his camera, selectively applying developer with painterly brushstrokes and exposing only certain elements on the print. Critic Klaus Kertess in Artforum suggests, “By using composite negatives and by directing the liquid chemicals that activate the light sensitive gel of photographic paper, [Incandela] transforms the memory of an image into the presence of an image.”

Consistently challenging himself to transform the very nature of photography, Incandela began using multiple negatives to create a single print in 1975 that prefigured contemporary interests exemplified on one hand by David Hockney’s composite polaroid collages like Pearblossom Highway (1986) and on another by the post-camera, digital manipulations now made commonplace by the advent of Adobe Photoshop.

Reverting to the use of a single negative, Equine Expressions, Incandela’s new series of large-format photographic drawings, are based on photographs of his favorite Andalusian horses.  Through bold, consequential gestures spontaneously applied in the darkroom, Incandela dramatically captures the expressive power, speed, and motion of the equestrian forms themselves. As such, he reinvents the time-motion studies begun in California by Edward Muybridge in 1872, by employing an intuitive process that fundamentally transforms the static information captured by the lens, though his own hand and vision.  Interjecting himself between medium and process, Incandela works outside the limits of photographic time frame.

With the series, Incandela also explores the intersection of abstraction and figuration. Formally evoking the abstract expressionist aesthetic of Robert Motherwell or Franz Kline, Incandela considers his recent series as a form of calligraphy. Incandela uses deep, dimensional lines of hand-drawn developer to relays the commanding movement and graceful agility of horses with innovation and poignancy rarely seen in contemporary photography.  In art, Incandela states, “It’s always about suggesting depth on a flat piece of paper.”

Incandela’s work is held in the Wagstaff Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum; the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, among others. His work is currently included in an exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, entitled Made in Santa Barbara. His debut exhibition at ECAA, Equine Expressions, represents Incandela’s first West Coast solo exhibition.