Poignant Portfolio no. 5: Paula Riff
by Paula Riff
The Japanese word shibui refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty and it is this concept that reflects the spirit of this series. An object or piece of art that employs these characteristics may at first appear to be simple, but upon closer inspection, one notices the subtle details or textures that balance the simplicity with a rich complexity.
For this project Shibui, I use camera-less images with the processes of cyanotype and color gum bichromate that allows me to explore and intervene with the natural world as an artist. Cutting the paper at various intersections also allows me to enter the conversation with the materials I use in a very intimate way. The intention is to strip away as much as possible so that I am able to focus more on the elements of design and consider the natural world in a different way.
I am influenced by the artists Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, Mark Rothko and others who experimented with their art and the use of their materials. Like them I am interested in ideas of revolutionary art making and experimentation, while holding true to the spirit of abstraction.
Paula Riff’s first career did not involve taking pictures. After college, she lived in Tokyo, Japan for several years and upon her return became an interpreter for Japanese production companies in Los Angeles. She switched careers while landing an internship at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the photo department. She also worked at the California Institute of the Arts, taking photos for their publications. Although Paula owns digital and film cameras her new work finds her camera-less, coating her own papers and making photograms. Paula’s work has appeared in numerous galleries, publications and exhibitions throughout the U.S and internationally. Her work is also held in private collections.