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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Dominic Rouse

Dates:  1959, 15 August -
Born:  England, Essex, Witham
Contemporary master of the surreal photograph.
Dominic was born in England in 1959 and started his career as a press photographer at the age of sixteen working for local and national newspapers.
Finding himself constrained by the technical limitations of photojournalism he returned to college in 1982 to study commercial and advertising photography and developed a particular interest in multiple exposure techniques using large format cameras.
After a brief spell assisting advertising photographers in London he opened his own studio in 1986.
On his style he writes:
Monochrome compositions comprising the human form (or parts thereof), interiors (ecclesiastical and otherwise) and occasional landscapes, acknowledging the writings of Franz Kafka, Philip Larkin and Friedrich Nietzsche with obeisance due to M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte; being attempts to convey anger, heartache, confusion and hatred (that most potent of emotional cocktails) and their antidotes: obsession and desire the highest forms of which, despite the prison of our existence, somehow manage "to prove our almost-instinct almost true: What will survive of us is love."
[courtesy of Dominic Rouse and taken from his website, April 2006] 
Artist statement: 
The dying artist‘s statement
I opened my sewered mind unguardedly
And rats the size of childhood fears
Rummaged through empty cupboards
Lined with the past‘s unhappy news.
Truth, that bastard of eternity,
Dripped from a rusty hanger; mothballed,
Outmoded, death-trapped and creased,
Do-goodingly given to the needy.

Through the airless grill I clearly saw
The narrow path that led to the summit,
Mist-hidden from the fading sun,
And lined with the crucified fools
Who had tempted me with rack and ruin
Wrapped prettily as fame and fortune.
Beware-signs seen too late, they hung
Pointing where I should not have gone.
Estate-agents still misleading me
With half-truths about the views
Though it pained them to speak.
Financial lizards, innumerate now
But for the hum of lap-top mendacity,
Omniscient softwares that promised
Evergreen lawns and perennial cruises
To half-employed, unwaged, losers
Fearing wheelchaired hospice futures.
And I wondered if they too had
Planned for these chill autumnal years
Nailed now between their outstretched hands
With policies beyond redemption
Maturity dates long past and still
A guaranteed amount of inflation-proof hell.
But saw in their fears they had not,
Heard in their screams the arrears
They had gorged from others‘ profits.
Unable to bear their failures
Which were by default my own,
I turned my back on the mountain
That I must one day surely climb,
And faced the one-room hovel
That houses my bitter past.

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Theme: Photomontage
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The wit and wisdom.

"All photographs of children are disturbing because they are premonitions of us. A child is a tragedy waiting to happen; Man is the tragedy in progress. It is not possible to corrupt the young, to be born human is corruption enough."
"Art has often been defined as the search for Truth and Beauty but I would define photography as the exposition of the fallacy we know as Truth and I might add that Beauty is measured in degrees of deceit, the greater the beauty the greater the deceit. Nonetheless, I am addicted to Beauty though unfortunately I am a habit that Beauty has managed to kick. It is discomforting to know that if all that existed was beautiful, Beauty would cease to exist."
"Art is the antidote to the human condition."
"Art is the exploration of the human mind by the human mind. It is the servant of self and one can do oneself no greater service."
"Colour is everything, black and white is more."
"Consider the thousands of years that passed between the time the first lines were made on cave walls and the glories of The Renaissance and, remembering that photography is not yet two hundred years old, forgive us our unpolished scrawls."
"Every year I set out to make the perfect image and every year I fail. You can have no idea how enjoyable failure can be. If I can lie on my death-bed worrying about all the imperfections in my latest image I will have lived a good life."
"I am interested in the unseen and the obscene. An appreciation of the obscene leads to a greater understanding of beauty and the exploration of self leads to a greater understanding of others. Language is the limit of our understanding. Art is not."
"I do not choose to make my images. They choose me to get made. I make images for the hard of hearing.
Images ooze out of me like puss from a running sore."
"I think of my ideas more as assailants than as friends or benign visitors but I much prefer my own madness and my own lies to the madness and half-truths of others. I cannot imagine a life without imagination."
"It helps to get a handle on my work, if you are a lapsed Catholic with a repressed longing for reconciliation with Holy Mother Church. Perhaps God bestows the gift of art upon those who cannot reach Him using the more conventional paths. Making art is the closest one can get to The Almighty without actually having to be good."
"Making art is like walking a very fine line. To one side lies indolence and on the other, the fear of success."
"My images are the companions of my thoughts and I am often told that my thoughts are strange but it is better to have odd ideas than none at all.
Is it my imagination or is it dark in here?"
"One might argue that because of the prevalence of the camera and its overuse - because every day throughout the world millions of images are made by millions of people - the ability to produce a memorable image using a camera is a far greater achievement than to do so using paints, brushes and a canvas where competitors are fewer."
"That both Hitler and Churchill could paint a little gives some indication of the dangers of weekend artists."
"That every work of art that is censored in a given age becomes in time valued and benign, informs us that the morals of today are no guide to the morality of tomorrow and further reveals the exquisitely transient nature of the certainty which moralists of every age so confidently profess. Indeed there is no surer sign of ignorance than certainty. If Christ had indulged in certainty He would not have agonized in Gethsemane."
"The fewer imaginative people there are the better I say because it leaves more room for me to run around in."
"There is nothing more calculated to destroy an individual's ability to appreciate the beauties of the photographic arts than a degree in the History of Art."
"To see the light we must first acknowledge that we are in the dark."
"To take a piece of paper, coat it with a gelatin in which are suspended a million silver halides and then to allow, first light and then chemicals to caress it in such a way that they leave behind an imprint of one's soul is an exquisite joy that no amount of criticism can diminish.
I do not have ambition as such, every completed piece is an ambition achieved."
"Viewers seek explanations from the artist but he is not the man to help them. The only person who can explain a piece of art to you is yourself.
I would not presume to tell another how to think though I do occasionally take it upon myself to encourage others to think for themselves. For many this is a new experience."
"Were it not for the pain to be found in the wider world I might not have sought sanctuary in the confinement of my own where I discovered an endless supply of the raw materials needed to make the images I do. I found reality a little unsettling so I created a disturbing world in order to make this one appear a little less unnerving."
"When a man says to me - as one did recently - that he would not buy one of my images because if he hung it in his house it would make him want to cry every time he saw it, I mark it down as a sale."
"You bring your baggage to my work and I'll bring mine."
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