Art you can walk through
"Adrenalized by photography, the possibilities, the art, the instant gratification, the communication process. Architecture is art you can walk through – when I photograph buildings I like to feel them first, walk them until I feel I can sense the architect’s language. I try and capture the poetic essence of a structure, without regard to its function."
Julian Escardo, Freelance Photographer, Seattle / USA
Hello Julian, you are known as an abstract photographer... has Photography always been your medium or what attracts you to Photography, especial to architectural Photography?
Photography, or better said, photographs have always been a part of my life. I did buy some gear set up a small darkroom in the early 80’s doing black and white film - back then I did a series of canadian winter scenes (I was living in Toronto at the time) and for the most part I did just that, minimalisms and landscapes. One day I sold and folded everything and it wasn’t until the late 90’s that I took it up again. It was the digital era and I bought a basic Nikon to walk around and take a closer look at my new city, Los Angeles. As far as architectural photography is concerned I was walking up South Grand Ave one day and came across a building that would forever change my life and define my style. It was the Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry. It was instant love; art you could walk through, forms, shape, geometry, light, design, movement, angles, etc. I think I stayed there about 4 hours and spent time just reading this building, forgetting everything else, like eating or even drinking water on what was a very hot Southern California day. I’ve loved contemporary architecture ever since.
The architectural language of F.O.Gehry has undoubted a poetic dimension, grace, aesthetics.. A sense of this language is definitely visible in your photos, but also lot of interpretations of its own... Would you say it is your role in the photographic process to act as a translator - translating the "invisible"? Or is it more to show your own view, to express your individual feelings... so to say: "what we see is what we are"? How much Escardo is inside your images?
Good question; I see myself as an interpreter of sorts, I mean everything is there to begin with. But yes, I do it in my own style, that is to say that it is my vision in the end. As far as the invisible, it is more like a highlight of the ‘essential’ parts that I bring to the surface, a brief but meaningful stop to define the building by the sum of it’s pieces rather than the whole. To me his structures are to powerful to view all at once.
It would be very interesting to hear more about the process of creation of images.. How do you think „the Moment“ influence your pictures? Do you seek out particular types of images, or do you find, respectively do the images come to you? I think that coincidence makes photography more exciting... Is it an adventure for you?
The images come to me in a way. Every day is different because it is influenced by the light, time of day, weather, etc. I know when I see it - yes, that coincidence that you speak about is the force of a particular moment that gets forever framed/ frozen by the camera. Photographs may be similar, but never the same.
You seem to have a brilliant eye for minimalistic compositions, which is visible in your architectural abstracts, as in other images.. So there is definitely more „essence“ of the subject by only excluding the color... It has a completely different resonance from a black-and-white photo than from a colored of the same subject matter. If you had to summarize and simplify to the extrem, what would left?
My abstract process is about energy, and perhaps motion as well. Some traces of reality are removed in the pro- cess but as I said before, it is all there, just presented in a different way. I enjoy the tension and perhaps the disorientation where I present it in a particular way but the viewer may very well want to turn it sideways, or feel a sense of descent when I am in fact looking straight up.
All your compositions are characterized by a high harmony and balance, down to the last detail. Can a picture ever be finished and perfect for you?
A gut answer would be to say no, never.....but it may take me 15 minutes or three years to finish a piece but yes, I do reach that point of harmony and then I let go, so the answer is yes. Sometimes I will go back to a photograph and rework it, take it to a new level, but that happens because you yourself are at a different level in the evolutio- nary process too. The original stands on its own however, and if I sold it then I don’t play with it after. I have also gone back to a site and taken a whole new set of photographs. I like to push things to a limit - I went back to the Disney Concert Hall about 80 times for example. It helped that I was living in that city of course.... (smile).
Looking back at your work, are there some artists or something, who/which inspires your life and work... Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration, which artists or photographers influenced you and why do you think it was so?
Photographers and painters - Sol LeWitt, Lucien Hervé, Mark Rothko and Edward Weston among many others. Alvarez Bravo, I could go on for hours - I believe one should have a wide range of so called „influencers“ because there is something of everyone in everyone; all the way down to cave painting. I love minimalism, it s a very challenging style. You strip everything to bear essentials, and then take away some more. It’s you alone in the universe, very powerful and very fragile at the same time.
You seem to be fascinated by urban landscapes and places in general.. What do you find interesting about urban environments that you shot? And is there any architecture, on which you wouldnt approach?
Urban landscapes offer everything to me, sensuality, geometry, form, structure, even hope. Much the same as in traditional landscape, which offers all those things as well. I just chose architecture, that’s all. As for the second question, if I was locked up inside the Louvre for the rest of my life I would probably find ways to photograph it, but I prefer contemporary works, and simple lines/spaces. I feel at home with Gehry, Hadid, Ando, Pei, etc. I also love modern / mid-century architecture, Schindler, Neutra, Lloyd Wright, Niemeyer, Alto.... and the list can get bigger and bigger. The purity of lines is amazing, all traces of clutter removed. I love what is being done with today’s materials though, they seem to defy gravity, and the use of aluminum, carbon, titanium offers so much. Some creativity is being sacrificed however, for ostentatiousness such as some buildings in Dubai, but is is definitely exciting, and unavoidable if I may say so.
What future plans do you have? Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?
Plans, yes, lots of them; they are tied to economic factors unfortunately. My dream would be to do a commission and be able to work freely for a year. I would gladly exchange that for all the result of that year’s work. Specific places: Bilbao (for the Guggenheim), London at large, Berlin, and yes, Dubai would be a dream.
Have you already made your most important photo? And is there something you want to reach in future?
NO, the best is yet to come as they say. I don’t think any artist is totally satisfied with his or her work. I would honestly like to receive a grant so I can work freely. I have a large “want” bag but so does every artist. But seri- ously, I don’t want to reach as much as I want to keep going and growing. I have much to say.
Thank you very much for taking the time for this interesting intreview! I'm looking forward to see about the next steps and more of your amazing work!
Interview with Lena Weisbek, May, 2014
Catanzaro, Italien 2009
Spring Art Center, Los Angeles, USA 2011
Galeria Arte X Arte, Buenos Aires, Argentinien 2012
Café El Sur, Paris, Frankreich 2014
Gallery "Le Select" Paris, Frankreich 2014
FIF 2015 Puebla, Mexico. Opening Show 2015
Zoka Café Seattle, USA 2017
"Photography awards to tenured staff and departing Council members"
Getty Center Museum, Los Angeles 2010- 2011