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Last Laugh
patrick winfield | polaroid on board | 2008

With profits declining, Polaroid announced in February that it plans to discontinue production of all instant film by the end of this year, but Polaroidologist Patrick Winfield is not worried.

“I’m optimistic,” Winfield says. “But if the time comes [when Polaroid film is no longer available] I’ll just advance and pick something else up.” Working with Polaroid cameras for the past four years, Winfield’s background in graphic design shines through in the crafted structures of the composites, combining the tight lines of graphic design with the broad strokes of the artist.

Winfield shoots with many different cameras, but likes his Polaroid best. “It’s that creaminess,” he says, “that seductive, almost nostalgic look that you get from it.” He also enjoys the instant gratification of the film, being able to hold it in his hand and work with it as soon as it’s shot. “It’s more like drawing in a sense. You can see the line or the finished piece instantly, it’s very nice to work that way,” Winfield says.

He places his work into two main categories, one being abstract, which Last Laugh falls into. “It’s like a call-and-response,” Winfield says. “I create an image and compare it to what I have and work from that, it’s a bit more free-flowing.” He also categorizes his works as representational—landscapes or figure studies. Going out and taking pictures are where his ideas sprout from for those pieces. Winfield will find a single photo he likes and build on it. Taking the picture home, he’ll stretch it out, figuring out how to grid it and get it on film before he takes the rest of the pictures for the piece.

Winfield finds inspiration in diverse places, from authors and artists spanning the centuries, everything from Egyptian sources to Dada and modern art. David Hockney, who also arranged Polaroids into collages, has been a significant influence. Winfiled also finds inspiration in nature. “I’m always drawn back to nature,” he says. “I feel most comfortable walking, hiking, being outside.”

Wanting to push his work further, Winfield has just finished two large commission pieces over 40 inches long. He plans on creating a composite that is 60 inches long in the near future. Winfield says he has enough instant film to last him the rest of the year and to finish his upcoming projects, just in case a company does not pick up the license, but he is hopeful someone will. “There are other films I could work with doing this composite grid and hopefully it will make me a better artist.”

Patrick Winfield’s exhibit “Composites,” comprised of 21 photographic pieces, is being shown at Open Space, 510 Main Street in Beacon, through April 5. (845) 765-0731; www.openspacebeacon.com. Portfolio: www.patrickwinfield.com.

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