Sergei Romanov

Essay by Lyle Rexer

2018

Description

Sergei Romanov's distinctive images feature hyper-stylized female nudes and other subjects that, in their dark surrealism, are a nod to Russian avant-garde forebears like Alexander Rodchenko and László Moholy-Nagy. These photographs, made with the ambrotype process—resulting in one-of-a-kind images captured on glass—represent a new stage in photography, the so-called “antiquarian avant-garde,” that is, the radical rediscovery of obsolete photographic techniques. Sergei Romanov goes further than any other contemporary photographer in pushing his medium into imagistic territory never approached before, because he has ignored all the rules: he just doesn’t care about good taste, or perfect craftsmanship, or total control, or conceptual strategies. He is deeply convinced that what is most important (and most often missing in today’s photography) is an ineffable spirit—and he will risk everything to evoke it. When he succeeds, his images possess the uncanny physical presence of the living body, the primal magnetism of sexuality, and the hypnotic involvement of a hallucination. A waking dream.