Painting with a Camera: A Visit to Lyman Allyn

Peter Daitch's photos Images taken by Sophia Angele-Kuehn

Blurry photographs are the bane of day-to-day snapshots, but the unclear, large-scale photos of Peter Daitch on display at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum could be mistaken as the latest pieces of modern art. The exhibit is titled Peter Daitch – Photographs: Landscapes, Abstracts & Urban Scenes and will run until April 2, 2017 in the Glassenberg Gallery. It showcases digital photographs taken mostly in New England locations like Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, yet there are a couple from Aspen Valley, Colorado as well. As familiar as the locations may seem, the photographs are unfamiliar and thought-provoking.

Besides including a few traditionally sharp shots of foggy cityscapes, Peter Daitch employs ideas of expressionism and abstract artwork using the camera as his only tool. For those unfamiliar with expressionism, it can be best defined by the iconic early 20th century painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch with its striking undulating lines. Daitch’s artistic photography, however, is more streamlined and technological—a bafflingly simple yet skillful grasp of camera techniques that combine long exposures and a swooping motion of the camera lens to create something new.

Photo by Sophia Angele-Kuehn

Sam Quigley, the Director of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum eloquently puts it, “His expert eye and engaging empathy for his subjects draw us into a world that is familiar yet newly presented in fascinating moments. These abstract and artfully rendered photographs inspire us to view our surroundings with new appreciation and humility, and to open ourselves to alternate perceptions of the world around us.” Today’s flawless vistas of sunset-backed mountains and sunny beaches have become so common that they have lost artistic attraction and cause for contemplation. Daitch’s work forces the eye to hunt through each curve and take a guess about the original subject matter. The realistic details have been erased, leaving only the light, colors, and composition being conveyed. The mundane has been updated and revamped, and art has come back into photography.

Daitch’s interest in photography began with an attraction toward dynamics. When he was young, Daitch tried capturing his friends’ professional-looking skateboard poses, and in late high school he enjoyed venturing into Boston’s ballet studios to photograph dancers’ strong movements. In this way, his work attempts to infuse 3D motion into a rigid 2D form to move observers in conjunction with his subjects. He received a BFA in photography from the University of Bridgeport in 1985 and only recently has focused on expressing abstract and expressionistic landscapes through images. Apart from typical art forms like drawing and sculpture, the photographer records a specific existing moment in time from one unique viewpoint. Peter Daitch has shown that gallery worthy art can spring from local nature scenes with the help of a perceptive eye and a camera. •

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