Editor’s note: Paul Pacey is the official photographer for Expats.cz. The next two weekends, he’ll be presenting an annual Christmas show and sale.
In the usual whirlwind that comes before every exhibition, the inevitable question of my influences always seems to arise.
On the surface, it’s a fairly common assumption that my personal work is inspired heavily by any of your go-to Impressionists. And while I admit that I definitely relate quite naturally to the spirit of Monet and his pretty cool crew of contemporaries, the one art movement that has influenced my work above all others is Dada.
Despite sounding strangely like baby-talk, Dada was in fact a pretty rebellious movement in large protest to WWI that took on many creative forms for years to come. And although I can only empathize with the social context from a certain distance, their defiance of protocol and embrace for meaningful chaos always appealed to me; not only in terms of my photography, but also the way I’ve tried to live my life.
Now when I say chaos, I’m not talking about people running around burning police cars (anymore). It’s more the randomness of it that I always loved – the idea of surrendering to something, either slightly or totally, beyond your control.
When it came to creating this current collection, there were days that I would wake up and feel pretty loose, open to taking more chances and throwing some caution to the wind; and others where I would definitely chase something tighter, more specific. Yet no matter how much I would decide to control the image, as in life, the exciting part is that which remains out of my hands.
Dada also preached that one had to deconstruct before they could reconstruct, that “unlearning” was integral to rethinking. Picasso, perhaps above all, best expressed this when he began to reassemble the human form into what has become a signature style.
I have little doubt that, after four years down the road of fashion, if I hadn’t decided to go back to the beginning in my understanding and approach to the camera, I would never be producing the work I am now, revealingly enough, the most relevant of my career.
Whether conscious of it or not, I think that too many artists cling to the assurance of what little they know, and while they may find success or comfort, they stop evolving since there’s little need for something truly new. I’ve had to balance the line between art and commerce for what already seems like a long time. And while I’m grateful that photography gives me life, shooting for money isn’t always the same as shooting from the heart.
The latest installment from the heart opens as this Friday and Saturday in my studio so as to put a bookend on this chapter and clean the canvas for something once again new…