Robert Asman: The Alchemist

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THE ALCHEMIST

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For most of the last thirty-five years, Robert Asman has been devoted to investigating and stretching the conceptual and technical boundaries of silver prints.  As an alchemist of the dark room, Asman’s creations come to form in the darkroom through the boundless manipulation of paper negatives and chemicals.  His explorations and technique bind human form, urbanism and nature.  Asman approaches art making as a transformative process, in which he mines the physical properties of his materials to create a work on paper in which process and image are one.

The artist of these magnificent works on paper was born in Washington, D.C. where he received a BA from Catholic University in 1973 and an MFA from the renowned photography program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY in 1975. After a brief return to Washington, Asman lived for thirty years in Philadelphia where he taught photography at Moore College of Art & Design, Drexel University, the University of the Arts and the University of Pennsylvania. Asman has received multiple honors throughout his career, such as a Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and at Galerie Paviot in Paris. Asman’s work can also be found in numerous permanent collections, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

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SLITS AND SLICES

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Robert Asman has been making exquisite photographs for over 35 years, his hand printed images becoming synonymous with a conceptual and technical defying process that has been pushing the boundaries of silver gelatin print making for decades.

This is the work of an alchemist, artist and teacher who has spent his life exploring and manipulating paper negatives and chemicals that bind the human form, urbanism and nature. Asman sees it as a transformative process, one in which the original image is turned into an ethereal work of art through the chemical properties of the materials he uses and the paper he tears, scratches, peels and stains.

Through his work Asman has managed to bring process and image together to create pictures that range from the beautiful to the violent, the spiritual to the physical, the delicate to gritty rawness, and it’s ironic to think that it’s the advent of digital photography that has created a renewed interest in his work and traditional photographic processes.

I read somewhere that he compares taking pictures to taking poems. It’s a beautiful way to describe a process that creates a singular image of beauty.

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Editor’s Note: Robert Asman has a limited number of original vintage prints available for sale from these galleries.  Contact: tony@tonyward.com for inquiries.