As Joel Peter Witkin explains; /I cannot image love nor the atoms which make up all things nor can I image God. I am overwhelmed by existence and the splendor and misery we call history.
All these things are natural to man. I can hold these things like sand between my hands and be comforted because, although the reason and purpose of life is beyond comprehension, it is within us. It is in stones and flowers, too. In the Natural Law. What is within us, I believe, is the reality that Someone, Something created all things. That the very passion of life, of love and hatred is the acceptance or negation of God.
The poet E.E. Cummings described a lost soul as “a man falling on all sides”. William Blake, a believer, was overwhelmed by creation. He once wrote, “I can look at a knot in a tree until it frightens me”. Both these statements are radiant with intelligence. They have become art because they have the power to affect our reality, even our souls.
Great art is about transcendence. It elevates like. This is why I try to make great art. It is my vocation, my prayer. Like the clown before the altar, his “prayer”, his art, was to perform. Some thought this blasphemy. The aware knew it was the most sublime act of love of which he was capable./
/The resulting photographs are haunting and beautiful, grotesque yet bold in their defiance – a hideous beauty that is as compelling as it is taboo. Witkin begins each image by sketching his ideas on paper, perfecting every detail by arranging the scene before he gets into the studio to stage his elaborate tableaus. Once photographed, Witkin spends hours in the darkroom, scratching and piercing his negatives, transforming them into images that look made rather than taken. Through printing, Witkin reinterprets his original idea in a final act of adoration./ Cathrine Edelman Gallery