I have known Bob Cornelis for years as a master printer, but as an artist I must admit I had not taken a closer look. Not until we had our first face to face in Portland did I recognize the depth of his talent. Soft spoken, thoughtful about his craft and the work he produces, Bob’s images are simply beautiful. It was a pleasure to spend time with him and his work. His compositions are quiet and contemplative. I love playing in an image looking from edge to edge, wandering around at a less frenetic pace, enjoying the moment as well as the work. Bob’s photographs allow me that solace. His image transfers take on another layer of depth, not only as a visual stimulus, but as a textural one.
The Japanese rock garden (“karesansui”), often called a zen garden, is a small landscape consisting of carefully arranged rocks, trees and bushes on a bed of sand or gravel raked to represent water. It is meant to mimic the intimate essence of nature, not it’s true appearance. It serves as a meditation aid and instills a quiet state of mind.
Karesansui was the inspiration for this project. I have been a meditation practitioner for many years and sought to invite others through these photographs to enter the still mindspace that meditation brings. I have abstracted the idea of the zen garden using simple shapes, arranged harmoniously with each other and with their surroundings.
In the earliest text on Japanese gardening, “creating a garden” is referred to as “setting stones”. By “setting” these simple geometric objects, positioning them relative to light, horizon lines and viewer perspective a quiet landscape is created.
Each print consists of a 4×4″ image transfer placed on an 8.5×11″ sheet of BFK Rives printmaking paper. The small size creates an intimacy that engages the viewer on a very personal level.
The image transfer process adds an organic dimension to the work which moves the architectural quality of the images toward nature, an important foundation of karesansui. The movement of the emulsion that takes place during the transfer creates a sense of movement, similar to the raking of gravel. Each piece becomes unique, just as each zen garden is a unique expression of familiar rocks, trees and shrubs.
My hope is that each of these pieces will induce a quality of mindfulness when contemplated and that the series will offer the viewer a journey to a quiet place.
About Bob Cornelis –
I graduated from college (long ago) with a degree in philosophy but the imperatives of earning a living led me to a long career in the computer. In an unexpected way this career path led me to the world of photography and art. Tired of spending all day in an office, I sought a pursuit that would get me outdoors, away from computers. It was a choice between golf and photography, and it soon became clear that I was not a good golfer. A beginning darkroom class hooked me on photography and my long fascination with making prints began. I strongly believe in the merit of the photographic “object”, be it print, portfolio, book, etc.
In 1998 I decided to leave the corporate world and left my job without a clear next step in mind. Fine art digital printing was just beginning to get the traction that would ultimately cause it to revolutionize the world of photography. Deciding to join that trajectory and take advantage of my passion for photography and my background in technology, I founded Color Folio, a fine art digital printing studio, which I run to this day. This business gives me an opportunity to continuously recharge my artistic battery through association with painters and photographers all over the country.
In 2000, my family and I moved to Sonoma County, California, in the middle of wine country. The natural beauty that surrounds me everyday finds its way into my artwork. My wife, Susan, is a well known painter who teaches workshops and is a published author.
I continue to look for ways to explore my own artistic wanderlust. Over the years I have spent time painting with acrylics and pastels and making monoprints. But I keep coming back to photography, bringing what I’ve learned in these other endeavors with me and eagerly embracing the exciting and rapid developments that continue to redefine what it means to be a photographer in today’s world.
For more of Bob’s work, please log onto his website.