Patrick Close describes photography as, “the simple process of editing reality”. (Close, 2008) In his practice he carefully selects his photographic images to reveal his take on reality and life. He captures his subjects within an atmosphere that suggests an air of mystery or emotion he hopes will speak directly to the viewer. “The work isn’t complete until there is a viewer,” he says of the relationship between artist and audience. (Potter, 2008)
Many of Close’s works are untitled. He finds that titles, while they can be a means to understanding a work, can also block creative interpretations or push viewers in a direction they may not have gone on their own. Close prefers to select the image for its importance to him, trusting that it will resonate with his viewer in a way that is important to the viewer’s experience.
Untitled was the image selected to represent a photo-shoot Close had with a nude model. Many photos were taken but rather than present explicit images of the woman, he hints at sexuality with this gentle, yet powerful, image. “It is more sensual to suggest than to show,” he comments. (Close, 2008)
While Patrick Close is best known for his images of trees and the BC rainforest, images of women and sexuality have surfaced in his work over his career. Critic Greg Beattie has noted a connection between Close’s photographs of trees and the human body in a review of his work: “The trees, their barren branches reaching to the sky, resemble people with upraised arms.” (Beattie, 1994)
Close is fascinated with how human beings comprehend images and illusion. He is interested in how reality is brought into question when objects appear to go back and forth within a space. In this work, Untitled, the viewer is lead to wonder if the hand is going into the wall or if the wall is encapsulating the hand.
Close works in black-and-white because it brings out the strength of the graphic elements and challenges the artist to carefully think about composition, rather than rely on the realism that color offers. Black and white images are also easy to print in a home studio and, by their very nature, seem to produce an atmosphere or mood, a sense of mystery or memory.