Gil Mares' photographs are evocative, confined intensities. Kingdoms of color and light and shape, found in what is disguised as mundane sensory information,found in what is affixed to the ordinary objects and surfaces of our world: What appears to the average eye as a beaten and barnacled bow of a ship yields brilliant, abstracted panels of light and color in intricately orchestrated arrangements.
A tattered, peeling window on an old, abandoned building becomes a luminous phantasm, providing the focus for a previously overlooked psychic and sensory reality. A found community of forms. A population of objects in newly-acknowledged relationship.
Many of his pieces are hanging in our main showroom studio one. You are cordially invited to take in a moment of inspiring art any time you're in our neighborhood.
Here are a few selections of Mr. Mares work. For his complete portfolio please go to www.gilmaresphoto.com
HULL WITH FLOAT
ENSENADA HULL 1
ENSENADA HULL 2
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Gil Mares, reflected in one of his photographs, is an attorney by day and a creative photographer by weekend. His gifted eye has been focused on the hulls of ships, creating unique photographs that are often mistaken for colorful paintings, which are now on display at gallery 381 in San Pedro. (Sean Hiller/Staff Photographer)
By Alexa Ardeljan-Braden Staff Writer, Daily Breeze News
Posted: 06/10/2010 04:52:25 PM PDT
Vibrant and colorful, they stand as cryptic and alluring adornments on the walls of San Pedro's Gallery 381. To some, they appear to be watercolor paintings; to others, oil or acrylic. But few visitors can distinguish Gil Mares' pieces for what they truly are upon first glance.
It is not a brush that Mares uses to create his art, but a digital Canon camera focused on the exteriors of the ships that inhabit Los Angeles Harbor. Not only is it difficult to decipher the medium in his exhibit, "Harbor Abstracts," the subject matter of Mares' photos is not easily identified - at least until an anchor or cowl becomes clear.
With the photographer's eye for composition and color, Mares' pictures stir the imagination, appearing to be more abstract and striking than one might imagine a cargo freighter or ship could be. With their bright pinks, greens, blues, and reds, Mares' photos expose the exquisiteness of these ships in juxtaposition with their industrial purpose.
Mares, a lawyer of 20 years working with the Los Angeles County Public Defender's office, is just as unique as his photographs.
At 18, he said, he began to study art books and found himself entranced by the intricacy and compositional technique of the images shown on their pages. Shortly after, his own firsthand experience with art was initiated while visiting his family on the west coast of Mexico, where he began photographing his cousins.
Mares found himself hooked, he said, when he returned to his undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where he became intrigued by the details of the university's architecture.
In 1980, Mares moved to Tucson, Ariz., and began concentrating his photography on adobe structures in the Southwest and Spanish colonial structures in Latin America. It was from this endeavor, he said, that he developed his sense of composition.
Years later, Mares was nearing the premiere of a photo exhibit and felt the need for something new and exciting to kindle his viewers' imaginations. The concept came to him after months of thought - he would shoot the ships of the port he saw from his home in San Pedro.
With this, he set off on a boat and was amazed at what he found. "We went by a ship that was at least 60 feet tall, 3- or 400 feet long, and looked like an artist's pallet," Mares said. "(There were) these vivid colors, (with) rust bursting out, and there I was standing with a camera. The light bulb went on and I thought, `My God,' and just started shooting."
Snapping his camera in a frenzy, Mares said, he found that he was able to capture an essence of the ships that was unlike anything he could have imagined.
"While searching for images in the harbor, I was drawn to the worn hulls of the ships that dock there," he wrote in the artist's statement accompanying the exhibit. "The brightly painted hulls exhibit interesting patterns and textures which are reflected in the water. The hulls may appear delicate, tenuous, even transparent, however, the scrapes, gouges, rubber marks and rusting wounds - sometimes from the ships' own anchors, sometimes from the ubiquitous tires found on the sides of docks and tugboats - belie this frailty.
"At times a series of numbers or cryptic diagrams may appear on the massive hulls," he said. "These are everyday items that are mundane stuff out there that everyone ignores."
Mares premiered his Gil Mares is an attorney by day and a creative photographer by weekend. His gifted eye has been focused on the hulls of ships, creating unique photographs that are often mistaken for colorful paintings, which are now on display at gallery 381 in San Pedro. (Sean Hiller/Staff Photographer) maritime photography in San Pedro in 1997 and went on to show the exhibit at venues in four states outside California. "I try to use composition, color, texture, depth, and detail to illuminate the subject, to remove all other distractions, and invite contemplation," Mares said. "If you look at (the photographs) you get the sense that composition is the number one element in these pictures. Number two is color."
The construction of a photo is just as important as its composition to Mares. His photographs are mounted on aluminum to "help to give you the solid feel of the hull," he said.
Mares said he uses no filters or Photoshop processes. In addition to his exhibit at Gallery 381, Mares said nine of his photographs will appear in an upcoming movie and in an exhibit in Panama City, Panama. After 40 years as a photographer, Mares said, his art has, "evolved into a `distilling process' that concentrates on what is in plain view and attempts to pull out the essence of the subject."
"The whole process is taking out absolute reality, composing it, and having it behave differently on the wall," he said. "(Photography) is what I was doing way before I was a public defender. This is what I've been doing almost all my life."
Alexa Ardeljan-Braden is a freelance writer based in Palos Verdes Estates. What: Exhibit of photos by Gil Mares, capturing images of ships in Los Angeles Harbor. When: Through June 26; open by appointment. Where: Gallery 381, 381 W. Sixth St., San Pedro. Information: 310-809-5082 or www.gilmaresphoto.com.
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