Statement on Art

An image is compelling only when, in terms of its substance, it is not immediately apprehensible or directly intelligible. The atmosphere that shrouds a thing, and the seemingly incidental form it takes, are just as fascinating as the core of the thing itself. And so, with my own images, I always try to leave things partially obscured. Any given thing present in an image must never be fully present. The underlying subject matter of a work must never be forced into the direct glare of unconcealment. Likewise, every image must exhibit some degree of abstraction. Things are always open to yet further interpretation, and so they ought to be allowed to remain so open. And ... questions about a work must always outpace any possible answers. 

This reflects a broader understanding, namely that, although we often strain to impose order upon the perceived chaos of our world, the meaning behind things in general can never be - or be made to be - perfectly clear or easily understood, or fluently communicated.  Ambiguity is pervasive. The denial of ambiguity, the drive to eradicate uncertainty and doubt, produces only contortions ... it leads to the closure of life possibilities. 

By contrast, art allows us to dwell in moments where possibilities remain open. The intent behind my images is to let things be as they are "in themselves", which is to say to reveal themselves in a very wide variety of guises ... such that our our understanding and experiences of them could, ideally, branch out indefinitely. 

At the very least, I refuse the forced closure and cutting off of interpretive possibilities. I reject the vulgar aesthetic that is often thrust upon us, which aims to convince us that all things are at our immediate disposal, that everything is in principle knowable and attainable, that nothing is in fact subtle or elusive or veiled … that there are no real abstractions … or that, all in all, within the modern, nothing remains of the mystical or transcendent. 

Statement on Portraiture

I focus  on creative portraiture, editorial-style work and related fields. I use innovative lighting techniques, and try to emphasize shadows, as much as light, by way of sculpting form and figure, and in order to add a sense of intrigue and intimacy to my images. I also often apply non-generic colour grading, mainly in order to create atmosphere that is complimentary to my subject's character … but also to grab and hold the viewer’s attention.  Above all, I aim to present my subjects in ways that emphasize their inner strength and dignity, and I often try to capture them in contemplative, thoughtful or meditative moments. …  I aim to produce images that are “timeless.”


I'm available for commissions and am able to serve both private individuals, as well as commercial/institutional clients. 

Biography

I am currently based in Toronto, Canada … but my background is Turkish-Bulgarian, and I was born in Svishtov, a small town on the Danube River. During the 80s, my family and I lived in North Africa, in Tripoli, Libya, as ex-pats. 

I learned about photography for the first time while attending an international school, the “Oil Companies School [OCS],” for the children of foreign workers. It was here that I first received a comprehensive education in the basic practice of photography - including the workings of the camera, composition and aesthetic principles, developing film and other darkroom techniques. I learned about photography from one of the most incredible teachers I’ve ever had, starting in Grade 6 at OCS.

I came to Canada with my parents just as I started high school in Burlington, Ontario, and there I continued my education in photography from one of my all-time favourite art teachers. I have been a lifelong lover, practitioner and occasional teacher of photography.

I am a graduate of McGill University (BA), McMaster University (MA), and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (JD). I’m a recipient of multiple prestigious scholarships and grants, as well as a published author in various academic journals. (You can access my publications via the link below.) I practiced law for a number of years, but for the sake of my health, I changed track and returned to school to do graduate-level work.

My family and I, including my wife and our two young children, live in downtown Toronto. In addition to my photography practice, I am a part-time Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Western Ontario; my studies focus on environmental philosophy as well as the work of early-modern German philosophers, namely Kant and Hegel. You can find more information about me via my links page:

linktr.ee/attila_ataner

... trivia ...

... In my spare time, I play chess with my kids and enjoy making Bauhaus-style sketches like the one on this page.

... I fell in love with the music of Pink Floyd when I was about 7 or 8 years old, which might possibly explain some of my melancholic tendencies. 

... Two of my favourite films: Steven Soderbergh's "Kafka", starring Jeremy Irons ... and "Wildside (Vildspor)", starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Mads Mikkelsen.

... All-time favourite dish: Cassoulet ... which I've managed to cook only a grand total of 3 times, so far.

... The languages I was taught, from earliest to the latest: Turkish, Bulgarian, Russian, English, Arabic, French, German. ... The languages I know, from best to least: English, Bulgarian, Turkish, German, French, Russian, Arabic (merely a selection of words and phrases). 

... Two of my favourite photographs: Minor White's "Peeled Paint" and André Kertész's "Chez Mondrian"

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