10 photographs by Father Paul
On November 10, a crowd of ‘friends’, art lovers and bypassers was gathered in the First Things gallery in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, for the opening of “Walls and Light,” an exhibition of 10 photographs by Father Paul Anel, on view until January 9, 2012. Silvia Espinosa, artist and PhD student in Art History, shares her insights about his intimate and contemplative work.
Looking is an act of salvation, of compassion, and it is the path Father Paul Anel has taken in his vocation as a Catholic priest and photographer. The exhibition, Walls and Light, at the First Things gallery brings together ten photographs by Fr. Paul that shed light on the beauty and mystery of ordinary and ephemeral moments in life and nature. Shifting reflections, quiet shadows, moving streams and passing clouds appear as timeless markers of a transient world caught between the infinite and finite, the personal and the universal. In these works, Fr. Paul approaches his subject - an empty stairwell, an urban commute, or a frosty morning glare - without any agenda, but the joyful desire to see the world “with the eyes of Christ,” that is, of compassion and love. Photography embodies the act of looking and in Fr. Paul’s hands or rather eyes, it becomes aspiration, prayer and praise.
(...) Though people have been the main subject of his photography, Fr. Paul’s most recent body of work reveals an interest in the abstract qualities of light and reflection, particularly on the landscape and urban environment. John Silvis, the curator of the exhibition, saw in these abstract images as much power to speak of the human experience as do his portraits. “They have a rich poetic quality and invite the viewer to spend time to contemplate. There is a certain complexity which takes years of seeing, a complexity of form and an understanding of the visual language as a medium,” says Silvis.
(...) Fr. Paul’s photographs invite us to contemplate the poetic and symbolic expression of light across surfaces, places and time.