E. Dan Klepper Photography Exhibit
E. Dan Klepper Photography Exhibit
Texas photographer and artist E. Dan Klepper explores the western landscape on his own terms in Contemporary West – E. Dan Klepper on Art and Photography, April 1 through May 31st in the gallery rooms at the Haley Memorial Library and History Center.
“Photographers have been documenting the west since the camera was first introduced to America over 150 years ago,” says photographer and artist E. Dan Klepper. “But when did western photography make the leap from documentary to invention, from photography to art? For me, it occurred in the movies with classic westerns like “Once Upon a Time in the West” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. These pictures, shot frame-by-frame on film and then projected onto big drive-in movie screens, literally “supersized” the idea of the west, romanticizing the landscape in a mashup of dramatic locations and imaginative story-telling. When I first saw these movies as a kid with a camera growing up in Texas, I realized that I could use photography and the western landscape to invent stories of just about anything I wanted to and, under the right circumstances, make them real.”
In his exhibition at the Haley, Klepper tackles the western landscape and its history, nature, and popular frontier culture in photographs both small and super large. Invented movie stills, printed on cinema-like screens, depict outlaws, drive-ins and sci-fi spectacles.
These large-scale images hang alongside intimate, hand-painted photographs that pitch invention against documentation and weave fiction into fact.
“Documentation and invention in western photography have always provided opportunities for embellishment, characteristics of the medium since its infancy”, Klepper explains. “Examples include cannonballs and dead bodies repositioned to enhance the drama in battlefield photographs of the mid-1800s. In other words, history is not always represented with total accuracy. In some instances, and especially in personal histories, we often represent the past in a way that we choose to rather than in how it actually occurred.”
Many of Klepper’s images are about how time unfolds in the western landscape, from seconds to hours to centuries. He captures moments like lightning striking, birds flying, and moons rising in multiple images and surprising compositions.
“Sequencing photographs is one way to depict the idea of time across the frontier,” Klepper says. “The piece “Full Cold Moon” records the full moon setting over a west Texas desert in a sequence of 240 photographs taken over a 3-hour period. Like a storyline in a movie, this mosaic of individual photographs describes something more in the sum of its parts by compressing time into a unified, momentary expression.”
The western landscape takes the lead in this exhibition, “… including all of its natural attributes, just as it does in the western movies that inspired me”, Klepper says. “As a spectator, nature’s drama is always unpredictable (no two moments are ever alike) and its antics never cease to amaze me. As a photographer, it embodies everything I want to understand and explore, all the mysteries and magic and stories of life on this planet, and throughout time, from the deep past to the distant future, with and without me.”
E. Dan Klepper is an artist, photographer and writer based in the west Texas town of Marathon. His photographs have been featured in books and magazines including “In Sight”, the online photography magazine for The Washington Post and his large-scale works of photo-based art can be found in collections across the state. Klepper’s book of photography and essays, titled “Why the Raven Calls the Canyon”, is available from Texas A&M University Press. His work is represented by Foltz Fine Art in Houston and can be found at his gallery in Marathon and online at www.kleppergallery.com.