Im just a guy who has to create something with my camera everyday.
Chad Coombs portrays anonymous female heads. The Polaroid pictures digest the beginnings of his painting. His early theoretical and especially practical occupation with paintings was affected by former attempts to reeducate his left-handedness and not entirely corrected defective vision. The camera gave the young … Read More
Chad Coombs portrays anonymous female heads. The Polaroid pictures digest the beginnings of his painting. His early theoretical and especially practical occupation with paintings was affected by former attempts to reeducate his left-handedness and not entirely corrected defective vision. The camera gave the young man the possibility to accept his disability and to transform it positively. Due to the medium photography he could overcome the restrictions, which he experienced in painting. Coombs nevertheless found a way to combine the new work with his old interests. His portraits of young women connect photography with graphical and pictorial approaches. It is not about a lifelike copy of the actual face, but about an advanced metamorphosis and a perception of women in general, which can be achieved by emphasising the neuralgic parts of the face as hair, eyes and mouth. Mostly the image build-up is consistent: bright women’s heads are illuminated in front of dark backgrounds, which accents the face even more. The pictorial composition is completed by technical components, namely the Polaroid’s mechanic revision by splitting it in two layers. Parts of the internal as well as the external layers of the positive are treated by pen or paint-brush. The scribings on the layer appear as white ornaments on the black ground. Coombs’ technique resembles the approach of the pictorial photographers in the end of the nineteenth century, as they revised negatives and positives with both mechanic and chemical procedures, with the intention to approximate graphical and pictorial pictures. The primary representative of this kind of art was the German-American Frank Eugene Smith, who, like Coombs, originally was a painter and who turned to photography after an apprenticeship at the academy of arts in Munich. Another analogy to the pictorial photography at the turn of the century is Coombs’ smooth-graphical technique, which develops by the typical fuzziness of the Polaroid and so enhances the not intended failure. The women’s faces appear ambiguous and repeatedly in the same flesh-coloured and grey-blue shade. Despite the light and dark the outlines are diffuse, cheeks and noses are not accentuated and the skin’s unevenness is blanked out. The portraits’ focus concentrates on the mouth and especially on the hair and the eyes. The eyelashes are emphasised and extended through thick black colouring. The scraped and corroded fantasy hairstyles are entwined and bring former fashion designs into mind. Above all it is about abstracting ornamentation, known from the art nouveau, such as Alfons Mucha’s posters. A multiplicity of Coombs’ Polaroids with their shining effects is reminiscent of the American glamour photography in the 30ies and Edward Steichen’s and Richard Avedon’s fashion photography. At least this affects the “beautiful” Polaroids out of Coombs’ serial; the women radiate grace, erotic and lasciviousness. This becomes apparent not only in the black-and-white Polaroids, but also in some of the revised ones, which get an even more exponentiated pictorial expression by the use of pastose pastel colours. On the other hand Coombs also shows us grotesque and clownish female faces with unnaturally deferred facial features, which resemble Picasso’s “Demoiselles”. Whether extraordinarily beautiful or extraordinarily ugly: Chad Coombs presents women, who do not exist in real life in this way. His biography seems to be reflected, as he experienced the depreciation of disability in the western society himself and consequently learned, that appearance is elusive and perfection relative. Coombs’ talent for self-dramatisation manifests itself in his serial “Self”, in which he transforms himself into other figures again and again and fits them into the picture several times. For example, “Fast supper” presents a group of teenagers, who go for a table of fast food. The provoking reproduction of familiar iconographies by Chad Coombs, as here Eucharist, works with ingenious and brilliant image compositions which resemble David LaChapelle. In the work complex “Photoganda” Coombs succeeds in shocking: he installs famous photos as pictures out of Abu Ghraib or the execution of a Vietkong into the streets of Canadian town ship. Here you can see the politically provocative aspect of the photographer Coombs, which also has to be presented besides the pictorial women’s’ Polaroids. Read Less