Paul Cava, Poet and Photographer



A lot of contemporary artists are charmed and inspired by the photographic language of the nineteenth century. The richness of the images and the technical processes were overwhelming in the last century. There are modern photographers who make new work from a nostalgic feeling or are frustrated by the modern photographic materials and use the old techniques and images. The results are mostly copies of the "Old Masters". I prefer the original over the copy.

Paul CavaAn exception to this rule is Paul Cava. He is one of the rare contemporary photographers who is able to create a new photographic language based on photographic traditions. When you look at his images you feel that he knows the history of photography and that he understands the work of the Old Masters, but continues building on their work. He starts a new tradition by combining old techniques and modern technology - scanning images, working on them by hand and by the means of the computer, printing them on layers of handcraft paper or old documents and finally reworking them. This complex technique is not solely for the purpose of experiment but enables the artist to express himself and to deliver a new message.

Nude is one of the main themes in the work of Paul Cava. Nudes must have a special feeling for him. As he states himself :

"I have very specific taste in the nude, as you are probably beginning to understand. Pretension and style usually interfere with my enjoyment ... They were not intended as art and are therefore more timeless and eternal for me somehow. Of course, I run from this position when I am confronted by a beautiful work of erotic power, even if it is highly stylized."

Or an other statement by Paul Cava :

"My art for the past twenty years, has been a study of the human figure and it’s potent and erotic relationship to the great humanist themes of Love, Desire and Loss - Death and Eros as partners.

I use images that are intensely personal and at the same time universal as a means to repossess and connect to the underlying pathos and commonality that we as humans share through photography. Conceptually, in doing the work, I aim for wholeness, healing and regeneration, contrasting the death instinct with the life force.

Technically, some of my work is achieved by combining painting and drawing with photography, my own and occasionally found anonymous images. Most recently the work is accomplished by carefully preparing sheets of handmade and found papers with chine colle, collage and other drawn, pasted or painted-on elements. After these sheets are arranged, prepared, dried and flattened they then receive a photographic image by way of an archival ink jet printer. The preparation during this final stage is critical and requires working with a printer-technician to perform the required tasks of masking, registration, etc. Mistakes at this stage can be ruinous. The results, when successful, combines old and new media as a whole unique entity."

Discover the work by Paul Cava

Xavier Debeerst, 14/06/2001

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