John Duckworth’s photography provides the viewer with a sense of place, while allowing each individual to embrace the image and channel their own visual history enriched in the power of memory. Infused with a rhythm drawn from life itself, Duckworth’s artwork reflects our natural surroundings while resonating calm and quietness within. His process is derived from a desire to seek inner peace and a balance between one’s true nature and the chaos of the modern world.
This body of work evokes the sea, forest, marsh, and sky in rich bands of saturated color whilst telling a unique story of the horizon through both aesthetic and process. These photographs capture the essence and natural beauty of the Southeastern coastal landscape. Duckworth’s photographs are ingrained with an intimate knowledge of nature and a passion for pure color.
Duckworth approaches the Landscape Abstract series much like a plein aire painter: he “paints” with his camera. The photographs are left in their original state as shot on location in a process Duckworth has perfected. The result straddles Realism, Abstraction and Impressionism, and encompasses an appreciation of the natural beauty of the landscape and human interaction within these environments.
Walking the line between realism and abstraction, artist John Duckworth infuses his paintings, photographs, and films with a passion for pure color, an intimate knowledge of nature, and a rhythm drawn from life itself. A native of California, Duckworth was drawn to the lush lowlands of South Carolina in 1994, and in 2007 he settled into a hundred-year-old farmhouse on rural Johns Island and turned an old barn-building into an incredible multifaceted live/work loft/studio. Influenced by his environment, Duckworth also seeks inspiration from a plethora of sources such as the vivid colors of Thiebaud, the quiet solitude of Hopper, the still scenes of Jean-Luc Goddard, the captured moments of Cartier-Bresson, the serenity of Rothko, the diversity and range of Richter, and the endless juxtapositions of Albers.
He believes in “life as creative process”, and his ever-evolving creative process mirrors his varied personal interests and explorations. Exhibited internationally, Duckworth’s mesmerizing photographs, paintings, and films that connect art with life are included in significant private and corporate collections around the world.
Best described as paintings from a camera, John Duckworth’s Landscape Abstracts evoke the sea, forest, marsh, and sky in rich bands of saturated color. This body of work captures the essence and natural beauty of the region, where vibrant colors flow through the landscape as subtly as the southern seasons flow into each other. The humid summers bring brilliant green marshlands and graceful, fast-moving thunderstorms of purple and gray, while colder months deliver warmer, gentler tones and calm, serene sunsets. At every glance these photographs transport you through their colors - each image telling a unique story of the horizon through both aesthetic and process.
The Landscape Abstract series is a combination of three of John’s loves: creative process, nature, and bicycles. Almost all of these images were created during regular bike rides throughout the region. Intended to reveal a memory more than an exact record, the series is part of John’s ongoing meditation with nature. Certain images appear to subtly move when given ample time to sit quietly before them.
The photographs are shown in their original state as taken and are not digitally manipulated in post. Using a proprietary proofing process to achieve the most accurate colors possible, John prints straight to canvas utilizing a state-of-the-art digital darkroom with a wide-format printer and archival inks. Once printed, canvases are given a protective UV coating, stretched over custom-designed stretcher bars, and framed with handmade, locally built wood floater frames, made to order in African Wenge or painted black.
The Linear Abstracts are an extension of the Landscape Abstract series with a focus on color, line, and movement. As is characteristic of John’s creative vision, the details within the photograph vanish and blur, simplifying the image to accentuate pureness of color and form. In this body of work, movement transitions to vertical as opposed to horizontal.
Using his unique color-proofing process John fine tunes each individual color and tone in order to accurately match in print what he envisions on screen. It is a labor intensive process involving incremental and subtle shifts over a series of between five and 20 color proofs. Like all of his photographic work, the final image is printed on canvas and coated with a protective UV finish pulled over custom stretcher bars, and place in handmade, locally milled wood floater frames.
A complement to the Landscape Abstract series investigates the beauty and expanse of the coastal Carolina landscape. The result of stitching together ten to 20 different individual photographs, this body of work features an amazing level of detail, showcasing the beauty of the region in its full splendor. At up to 90 inches wide, the Panoramas command the peripheral vision, inviting the viewer to figuratively “step into” the scene.
A longtime advocate for the preservation of his beloved adopted homeland, John is committed to supporting efforts to preserve the beauty of the Carolina Lowcountry. Beginning in 2011, a percentage of each sale from the Panoramas series will go to support the Coastal Conservation League’s efforts to protect and preserve the region’s environment.
The Urban Journey series has roots in the early 1990s and John’s first serious exploration of photography. Wandering the streets of San Diego with a Pentax K1000, he sought out what Henri Cartier Bresson deemed “the decisive moment”- the moment when cinematic narrative emerges from the chaos. Rather than wait for the perfect scene to appear, however, John began to orchestrate the scene as a director.
Unlike Bresson’s work, the Urban Journey images are built from multiple stills in post-production. In this body of work, John carefully scouts out the perfect location, then waits patiently for all the elements to appear - the gathering between 50 to 100 images to build the composition. The result is the seamless integration of bits and pieces from dozen of images composing a narrative that is at once familiar, yet beyond placement.
Much like the Landscape Abstracts series reveals the essence of place, the Urban Journey series reveals the essence of a universal narrative - a narrative that the viewer, free from the confines of specificity, is invited to interpret through the lens of their own personal history. The panorama format references wide-screen cinema and further evokes the narrative quality of the image.
The Myopic series represents the continuation of John’s curiosity with focus and unfocus. Through his experimentation with soft-focus photogenic manipulation, the elements of color, tone, and shape shift towards abstraction. The result is an image where all reference to place is removed, leaving iridescent circles dancing in its place.
Decay is inherent in all component things. Out of decay, death, and destruction there is rebirth, growth, and life. - Buddha
The Spirari series is John’s most recent body of photography work. The images capture fire up close at high speed, which John then digitally alters to highlight the flame’s sensual form while abstracting the reference to its origin. An active attempt at grasping a deeper understanding and appreciation for change as a part of life, this series was born as a meditation on John’s evolving roles as a person, an artist, and a father. Spurred by a major life transition in 2007 and his subsequent move to Johns Island to live, work, and heal, the explorations shown in the Spirari series helped John to embrace the impermanence of his own emotions, thoughts, and physical being.
It reflects his awakening to a new outlook on life - one acknowledging impermanence as the only constant.