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Mark Dellas: People and Places

On View Friday, October 11, 2019–Sunday, April 26, 2020

Margaret L. Wendt Gallery    R. William Doolittle Gallery   

Presented by:
Paula and John Reinhold and the Joy Family Foundation
John and Candace Darby
René Jones and Brigid Doherty

With additional support from:
The Clement & Karen Arrison Family Charitable Foundation, Sylvia L. Rosen, Pamela Jacobs Vogt, Cathy & Carl Paladino, Audre J. Bunis, Independent Health, Luke and Danielle Jacobs, Michael P. Caroll and William J. Magavern II

Mark Dellas’ work has a distinct style: a specific aesthetic, a fashion-forward interest. But it’s not fashion photography. Rather, his work represents the fashion of things—people, places, groups—and it captures the essence of his subjects, telling their best stories.

The word fashion is frequently used to refer to popular style as “in fashion.” In the case of Dellas, it is a manner, a style, activated through his particular way of communicating. In his work, the places and, even more so, the people he has photographed over his career are unmistakably “Dellasian.” His subjects range from famous locations, academicians, musicians, and athletes to the unknown—subjects that simply possessed a certain look he needed to capture.

As pose and context shift from one image to the next, Dellas’ artistic vision is the filter through which we come to understand his subjects. His work exploits a contrast and graininess that impart his photographs with a luxurious quality—a rich, lush character, rooted in painting. Instead of using form as a repeated structure, with one thing next to another, his is a compositional palette.

Mark’s photographs communicate with the immediacy and power of black-and-white, but subtler undertones in a broader color range reward exploration. Whether shooting film or digitally, this quality has resonated in images throughout his career. Dellas’ work comes to life in the darkroom, whether actual or virtual. He pushes his images to the extremes of their sources, exploiting every detail until the result is more like the exposed weave of canvas in a painting than of a photograph.

Rooted in the people and the places that Mark Dellas captures, his photographs stand out because of their “big city” feel—a style that’s at once sophisticated, recognizable, accessible. Dellas’ images reflect a dynamism and intensity more often associated with New York and Paris, inviting us to revalue what we have here.

Because photography has such a lengthy history and is an accessible medium, it is always important to consider how a photographer presents their subject and the manner it is manipulated through lighting, angles, and perspective relationships. Some photographers leverage the tool, their camera, in an attempt to minimize everything but their selection of subject, but Dellas understands his role goes beyond simply being present.

Just short drive from Buffalo, the Eastman Kodak Company’s photographers worked throughout the 20th century to define the medium as a contemporary art form, making photography accessible to all.

As the art form has evolved, navigating and understanding the value of an artist’s work has become more complex. Some people feel that snapshots taken on their phones are on par with the work of artists who have spent a lifetime developing their craft. Others see image making as just one of the many tools that they use. The qualities that seem to connect all artistic works are the ways in which artists are present in what they produce.

Mark Dellas is present in everything he creates, sharing a way of seeing the world that is always his own.