Several focal points define the work of New York-based artist Eric Cahan. Among them: light, specifically the light generated by the sun at sunrise and sunset, science, nature, and the ephemeral quality of memories. These considerations are in play when, equipment in tow, Cahan heads outside at a carefully chosen hour of morning or evening to begin creating one of his flawless, ethereal works of art.
Cahan himself made most of the work for his current project, Sky Series, during his extensive travels. Each photograph and sculpture is titled with the time and location of its conception. In this way, Cahan catalogues his visual journal. “ During my travels, I discover what I want to document. My works are titled to remind me of the experience, both visually and spiritually.” Cahan’s viewers see in his work his unique interpretation of a specific time and place.
Understanding what inspires Cahan and learning more about the elaborate technical process necessary to create his pieces leads to awed appreciation of his art. When asked how much post-production goes into creating the final piece Cahan laments, a lot of people ask me if this is all done in Photoshop. In fact, very little Photoshop is used. I will only tone photos to match the paper type and, in some cases, add a bit of color curves. The actual process is done with colored resin filters I make myself and hold in front of the lens before I shoot a picture. When a color filter is used against a blue sky, it always alters the color of the sky. I know the colors I am trying to conjure and choose the filter accordingly. Many factors affect the capturing and manipulating of light and shadow, which is why Cahan works at sunrise and sunset and also, invariably, at Eric Cahan’s breathtaking photographs are studies in light and color, as well as keen explorations of time, place, memory, and the fleeting nature of the moments that make up our lives. His horizontal fields of color are evocative of the work of abstract painters such as Mark Rothko. Unlike Rothko, however, Cahan creates work that seeks to capture the very real and observable visual elements of a certain time and place, making something of a portrait of a moment. He decides on a location and photographs the sunrise or sunset in that location, carefully recording the time and place. From this derrives the titles of his photographs, such as 06:58am, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Contrary to our first impressions, his photographs show us the real world as we see it.
“My work is meant to capture a moment in nature, asking and empowering the viewer to be fully present, involved, and uplifted,” Cahan says. “I want the viewer to be drawn in, and be completely absorbed by, rather than separate from, that fleeting moment in time.”