Virginia Mak – “Hidden Nature” – 2009


Virginia Mak – “Hidden Nature”

As part of Exposure 2009: Calgary’s Festival of Photography, Newzones to pleased to present the Western Canadian debut of photographer Virginia Mak’s Hidden Nature Series.

Pushing photography beyond traditional limits, Mak explores the visual possibilities of the medium. Known for its soft focus and minimized light values, her work disrupts the boundary between painting and photography. The Hidden Nature Series is, in fact, inspired by the great Romantic German painter, Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) and touches on the sublime, art history, and individual’s relationship to nature.

On her inspiration, Mak states: “Friedrich’s subject matter revolves around the solitary figure in awe of nature and facing the fundamental questions of life. Friedrich believed that ‘the painter should paint not only what he has in front of him, but also what he sees inside himself'”. Mak’s Hidden Nature Series brings this dialogue into the 21st century and inquires how the respect for past ideals fit within a modern context. The photographs move through history, subtly noticeable in costume and use of light values, from the Romantic period to the present. Like with Friedrich’s painting, themes of longing for home, the sense of not belonging, and the individual’s connection to the inner self often recur in Mak’s work. Moodily presented, these large-format colour photographs speak to the unexpected beauty that comes with spatial isolation and meditation. This work disrupts the boundary between past and present, reflection and observation, and painting and photography. Mak was born in Hong Kong. After graduating with a Philophy Degree from the University of Calgary, she went onto study Photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She has received project and exhibition assistance grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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