I met Lee about ten years ago when I ran a fashion boutique and mini-gallery/store in downtown Toronto. This was before his move to NYC, where Lee cauterized his role as fine art and commercial photographer. Lee’s work does something difficult to achieve; it manages to smuggle the absorptions of literary street photography into the commercial realm and, conversely, pulls the commercial’s aesthetic crispness into soulful frames conjured to awaken us.
I asked Lee to send me work, which exemplifies his latest investigations and this selection of fabulous contemporary black and white photography is what he sent.
In this work, I see the America we watch between the fray and animated in those magical moments when our subjects render like sculptures for brief moments. Lee manages to create the illusion that these moments were laying ripe for the capture when something far more cultivated is at work. That is the mark of craft and art blending to powerful effect.
The pastoral, urban, rural, and some hinterland between seem to occupy the same space in his work. A warmth comes through. Whether the image is taken at a distance or presented as a sliver of a scene- we feel invited to a larger narrative. Perhaps this is owing to his work as a cinematographer where the story always comes first.
Lee Towndrow is a visual artist based in New York City. He has photographed Lena Dunham, Martin Amis, Dan Brown, Michael Chabon, and Sheila Heti. He was the cinematographer for the title sequence and reenactments in the film Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief His work has appeared in Time Magazine, The Paris Review, Das Magazin. He has worked as a visual effects artist on the feature film Carol (film), commercial campaigns for BMW, HONOR NYC, Morgan Stanley, TD Bank.
Towndrow began his career as a designer and photographer at a design firm he founded. The firm was best known for creating the album cover artwork for prominent Canadian bands such as Sloan, The Flashing Lights, The Inbreds and Michelle McAdorey.
Lee Towndrow became a Flame artist at TOPIX Computer Graphics, where he created visual effects and design for television commercials, music videos, and feature films.
From 2004-2005 he lived in Buenos Aires, where he worked with Roberto Jacoby, the m7red center, fr:Raumlabor Berlin Kiwi and Cecilia Sainz and Eugenia Herrera on conceptual art installations, such as Proyecto Venus, Darkroom and ArteBA.
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