Daniel Ranalli  

Daniel Ranalli was inspired to create this spiritual series by a trip to Asia and images of the Buddha in situ. For this meditative exercise, Ranalli used a combination of early photographic processes—the cliché verre (a drawing on a coated substance which is then printed) and photogram (made with no camera and directly with light). Early photographers used the photogram technique to record botanical specimens and snippets of lace, while the cliché verre was used primarily for reproduction. Aesthetically, the photogram's reversal of tones and attendant light effects is ethereal and haunting. In both processes, the resulting product is unique and retains a literal and metaphysical "halo" of the object that produced it. As such, Ranalli's furtive Buddha figures hover in space while emerging and retreating into their heavily toned background.

Ranalli's work is critically-acclaimed and found in prestigious collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the George Eastman House. Founder and Director of Boston University's graduate arts administration program, Ranalli divides his time between Cambridge and Welfleet. Recent solo exhibitions include showings at his alma mater Clark University and Provinceton's DNA Gallery.

Daniel Ranalli, Buddha #1, 2002, toned gelatin silver print, photogram/ cliché verre, 16 x 16 inches, Courtesy of DNA Gallery

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Artist Statement

This series emerged from my travels in Asia a few years ago. I was very moved by the repetitive image of the Buddha and its contextualization within the cultural and natural environment there. This series is an attempt to explore the idea of a sacred, even iconic, image, while at the same time, seeing how much it can be simplified and reduced in complexity without having it lose its meaning.

I began with a series of ink drawings of the Buddha image that I made on a large roll of paper tacked to my studio wall. The paper was marked off in a grid, and in each square I made a drawing. I then selected certain images and used them to make a photographic print in the darkroom. It is something of a combination between the technique known as cliché-verre and the photogram. Because of the distinctive qualities of photographic materials the image has a wonderful luminous quality – obtainable no other way really. Making an image of the Buddha out of light also seemed appropriate.

Copyright © 2002, Photographic Resource Center, Inc.