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Art & Life with Karchi Perlmann

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karchi Perlmann.

Karchi, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
To articulate my journey to this point in my life as an artist is not unlike the total some of my life journey. When I reflect upon this question I realize that what I thought I set out to do or be as a young person is in fact a billion miles away from where I ended up. I was set on the path to become a professional athlete, a hockey player to be exact, but when at the age of 19 I found myself in a strange land, among strange people, who’s language I didn’t speak or whose culture I didn’t understand my path began to take some unexpected turns. As a Hungarian boy, landing in Canada in the 80’s I found myself gravitating towards the mystery of existential questions which triggered buttons that were more irresistible than lure of the ice rink. Growing up in a communist country and dogmatized to be a staunch atheist I found myself at a seminary, studying theology and drinking the elixir of metaphysical contemplation. It was only a matter of time, of course, before I was confronted by the hypocritical contradictions of religious dogma and ditched my education along with my monotheistic view of metaphysics and landed in the sphere of well-regarded aerial photographer. He quickly reawakened my childhood passion of photography and soon I found myself flying high in Cessnas and helicopters to master the art and craft of photography. After about two years of total immersion into this newly found creative expression I dove into commercial photography. The commercially driven career was rewarding financially and stroked my ego, but it was always my “little” personal projects and my intimate time with my camera that really brought spiritual satisfaction. I got entangled with the world of motion picture along the way, which opened new perspectives, creative outlets and a love for story driven narratives. Eventually it was my film career that brought me to Los Angeles in the late 90’s. The synthesis of still photography, the sensibility of space-time continuum (driven by the medium of motion picture) along with the then emerging digital technology that compelled me to transition into fine art photography. In fine art space I had no one to answer to and allowed me to confront the various mediums by exploring their contradictory properties. I began to use my still camera as a paint brush or a motion picture camera, turning my device from a “moment-freezing” device into a “time-catching” device, combining motion with long exposures, allowing me to record multitudes of moments in one single frame. To do this with a purpose opened up a world of possibilities, realizing that I could create a mood or feeling not by what is apparent in the image, but by its very ambiguity. It was not about reflecting the world back to us, but rather reflecting back that intangible that is not always so clear. It was in 2000 when I first created a series using this technique choosing the DTLA skyline as my subject matter. Looking back now I realize this was my launching pad to begin exploring LA and SOCAL with a passion. My work started to focus on my immediate surroundings while reaching as far as Joshua Tree. This journey is what led me to some of the current series I am becoming associated with. Series like Together / Discombobulated, LA Monuments and now LA Rhapsody all addresses the dynamics of our city. Some of these works end up dealing with socio-geo-political realities our city and tackle the phenomenon such as harmony within chaos or how is it that our own social relevance/status shapes our relationship to this city.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My art is rooted in photography and therefore all work I create is based on the recorded image. My basic sensibilities in as far as composition and aesthetics are concerned are influenced the great Hungarian masters such as Moholy-Nagy, Brassai, Kertesz and Capa as well as the early 20th century cubist masters. While my early personal work were heavily people centric my most recent works are largely void of people and are either reflecting the residue of human activity as seen in the Together / Discombobulated series or as in the LA Monuments series. These series are abstract cubist depiction of Los Angeles or important monuments like the Frank Ghery Disney Hall. I also gravitate toward exploring or discovering metaphysical or existential questions by pointing my camera toward nature or the energy deriving from it. Time Catcher and the Another Planet series are such works. I’m also currently on a parallel path by expanding one particular series that doesn’t seem to fall into either of the abovementioned categories. It is LA Rhapsody, a 65-foot-long single photographic print, a grand visual overture of Los Angeles stretching from Long Beach to the Angeles Forest. In addition to being a panoramic cityscape it is also an intimate, yet complex narrative of the city, revealing the diversity, the contradictions and the grandeur of a metropolitan that is an enigmatic wonder to its citizens if not the global culture. The artwork is populated with scrupulous details of everyday life in the city. Details such as road accident, hipsters watching an outdoor screening, voyeurs peering through binoculars, lovers kissing against the cityscape, Batman sign on City Hall, coyotes on the hill top, hawks hovering over the hiking trails, police helicopters over an arrest, news helicopters over a fire in the city, fashion photo shoot on the street, homeless encampment in the Arroyo, controversial billboards over the highways and much more. In this work I bring the centuries old panorama art to the 21st century that tell the modern the tail of a city with a highly cinematic representation that is very subtle, but a fully intended pun. I am currently working on a companion piece that dives deeper into the life of the city and gets more up-close and personal to its denizens.

In the end, I am a storyteller. My stories are seldom linear or narrative, but are always personal, often contemplative, and unequivocally rooted in the collective unconscious. My medium is the camera, and my dialogue fills the space between reason and the unconscious. I also think that my work is reactive. Profound experience seems to be my trigger. Generally, it first resonates and overtime is assimilated into my instinctive/emotional/intellectual self before it is conceived and brought to life.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
Being an artist is often a solitary experience, but it sure doesn’t need to be lonely. In fact, I don’t believe loneliness is a prerequisite. Art, by its inherent nature is a communal endeavor; we dialogue with one another and present our work to our community and sometimes to the entire world. I also find that it is super important to engage with other artists. I participate in various artist organizations that helps not only to better my work, but also to put it out there. I encourage young or aspiring artist to get involved with local art organizations of which there are many. There is the LAAA, LA Art Core, LA Center for photography and many more. Spending time with another artist is inspiring and often helps to stay focused, motivated, challenged and honest with and about my art.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My work appears in shows and Galleries around town. I recently showed at Gallery 825, TAG and at LA Core. I try show annually at the Photo LA, as well as at the Beverly Hills Art Show, which is a wonderful opportunity to give wide exposure to my work. I have a private show room in my house where collectors can come to view my work. One of the best ways to follow my work and be alerted about upcoming exhibitions is to sign up to my monthly newsletter:

Most of my work is offered in limited editions and can be purchased directly from me (on my website) or from the galleries that show my work. Visiting my website will guide the collector through how to acquire my work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Karchi Perlmann

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