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Portfolio: Kate Breakey – Las Sombras/The Shadows


photo-eye Gallery Portfolio: Kate Breakey – Las Sombras/The Shadows photo-eye Gallery is pleased to introduce Las Sombras/The Shadows, a portfolio of hand-colored photograms by Kate Breakey. Paired with Golden Stardust, just released two weeks ago, Las Sombras/The Shadows represents the second half of Breakey's exhibition Shadows & Light currently on view at photo-eye Gallery through August 22nd.
Installation View – Las Sombras/The Shadows by Kate Breakey at photo-eye Gallery

photo-eye Gallery is pleased to introduce Las Sombras/The Shadows, a portfolio of hand-colored photograms by Kate Breakey. Paired with Golden Stardust, just released two weeks ago, Las Sombras/The Shadows represents the second half of Breakey's exhibition Shadows & Light currently on view at photo-eye Gallery through August 22nd.

Lesser Gold Finch, 8x8" Silver Gelatin, $700 (framed)
Kate Breakey, 2012
Breakey moved to Arizona from her native Australia in 1999, and Las Sombras as a series encapsulates a Naturalist view of the flora and fauna of her adopted home. Inspired by the photogenic drawings of William Henry Fox Talbot and the 19th century cyanotypes of Anna Atkins, Las Sombras satisfies Breakey's desire to record the world around her, marrying scientific examination with artistic expression. In the artist's own words: "When I first put a eucalyptus leaf on a piece of photographic paper in the dark, in an art school in Australia ... my fate was sealed, my own desire to document and chronicle the natural world having been set in motion. In my own way, I have devoted myself to that end."

Installation View – Las Sombras/The Shadows by Kate Breakey at photo-eye Gallery

Las Sombras/TheShadows is a delightful paradox. As photograms, the absence of light forms positive space on the photographic page, animating each life-form as the image emerges in the darkroom. Poet Lia Purpura eloquently notes:

Coyote, 40 x 48" Silver Gelatin,  $6200 (Framed)
Kate Breakey, 2004
"Finding a being's signature posture — that gift belongs to the hand of Kate Breakey. Somehow, though her creatures are not living, she has made of them a presence. By heart, she's located their core dignity, and by eye, discerned the moment in which they might leap, wave, curl, or slink back into our world. The work collected in Las Sombras/The Shadows feels both inevitable (it had to be made, and exactly this way) and, at the same time, as if it's always been with us — reverent and emotionally complex; peaceful yet humming with wilderness; insistent and, as all vital art is, awaiting the companionship of the viewer."

In 2012, The University of Texas Press released a monograph of Las Sombras/The Shadows as a part of the Southwestern & Mexican photography series edited by Bill Wittliff. In Daniel W. Coburn's 2013 book review for photo-eye, he echoes Purpura's sentiment recalling that:

"[Breakey] makes most of these images using dead animals, but we don’t see the evidence of death. Instead we see bunnies frolicking and foxes dancing. She shows us beetles, bats, and bobcats. We are confronted with the shadows of creatures we would otherwise avoid such as scorpions, snakes and skunks. Breakey playfully arranges foxes fowl and fauna, demonstrating her love and fascination with wild life of the American Southwest. I can't help but compare her photograms to those made by Adam Fuss. Fuss transforms the grotesque elements of death into something visceral, surreal and beautiful. Breakey gives her audience respite, or an escape into a world where animals are reanimated in a series of simple narratives that remind me of Aesop’s fables or children's stories."

Pair of Hummingbirds, 8 x 10, Silver Gelatin,  $650 – Kate Breakey

Like Breakey's previous work, the photograms in Las Sombras/The Shadows are delicately colored by hand — their warm sepia tone hinting toward their Victorian inspiration. Combined with a diverse set of ornate found frames the images seem utterly removed from the contemporary — touching and timeless. Even though most works are editions of seven, the hand application of color combined with the found frame makes each work unique.



View the Portfolio

Purchase the Monograph




For more information or to purchase prints please contact Gallery Director Anne Kelly at 505-988-5152 x 121 or anne@photoeye.com

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