Sam Falls has people talking, and when you look at his work it’s no surprise why. The way he uses colors and images offers a new and exciting way to appreciate art for both the weekend gallery-hopper and the advanced art critic.
His work has been shown in galleries across America, Canada, and Europe, and his paintings have that rare quality of being able to capture and hold our imaginations. Whether it’s his work with photography, painting, or writing, SamFalls is truly a Renaissance man.
Born in San Diego, California, in 1984, SamFalls spent most of his early life with his mother in Vermont. One of the things that he’s said was most important to him growing up were animals, especially the horses his mother owned.
Sam’s interest in photography, and art in general, came about when he was still in high school. His enjoyment of math and theoretical physics classes made him want to learn more about numbers and light, and photography seemed to be the key. East Asian religious influences also affected him, and can be seen in his work today, which he also attributes to his high school studies.
He attended ReedCollege in Portland, Oregon, and was awarded a BA in 2007 and a MFA at ICP-Bard in 2010. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Sam tries through the presentation of his photos on his website to have a non-linear feel with little offered in the way of explanation. His first real serious work was accompanied by a thoroughly thought-out written thesis of eighty pages, and one gets the sense from visiting his website that he’s trying to move away from the overly analytical presentation of his work through words.
Sam tries to get away from what he feels is the overly-commercialized aspect of photography today. Speaking in interviews conducted throughout 2008, Sam’s said that he thinks many photographers today are thinking too much about advertising, which there certainly isn’t much sign of in his work.
Sam Falls likens trends in photography today to the way that folk trends are coming back in music. Many things that people once cast-off as being old or hokey are now coming back into the mainstream. He feels that simplicity and sequencing are very important to how images are presented, something indicative in his work.
Simple pictures, like oranges or a storefront can come alive when he’s at the helm. Photography, he feels, can impart an important experience to users when done right, as opposed to making photographs little more than digital files with no real life behind them. I think most anyone who does an image search online today can understand what he’s getting at.
When looking at his own website, one is struck by how simply he presents his work. Pictures appear side-by-side with little more explanation as to what they are or why they are there than a simple title, such as “Crayon Roof” or “Spare Tire,” two of my favorites. The way the colors jump-out at you from the screen, as well as how a very life-like image can appear right next to a broad brush stroke, really offers a startling juxtaposition.
Sam Falls likens his photography and painting to Romantic painting. The Romantics painted different aspects of their existence, whether it was a river or a field, and made them more glorious than they already were through an enhancement of the pictorials rendered. Sam tries to do the same thing by taking everyday things around him, like his mother or the moon, then strips them down to their very aesthetic basis. He thinks that this approach heightens his own sensations of reality while giving the viewer a new and interesting idea of beauty.
Sam Falls’ website is a great place to begin if you want to see what he’s doing. The way he presents his photographs and paintings is truly great, and you can see a large body of his work.
Looking at “Judy’s Room” both reminds me of an overly-neon colored Miami of the 1980’s, as seen in the television series Miami Vice, as well as such mom-and-pop soda fountain décor of the 1950’s. The colors jump out at you invitingly but in such a warm way that you are drawn into not only the picture but the very recesses of your mind that the images pull you toward.
“Bougainvillea” is another superb example of Sam’s work in that the vibrancy of the colors juxtaposed with the dreary darker colors really jumps out. “Oranges,” too, has that same bright feel, although in this work I really do see more of the Cubist influence with the shapes of the fruit and leaves.