The Photography of Donald Vega
This exhibit of over 30 black and white photographs done by Donald M. Vega is a stunning example of ordinary characters frozen in both time and in their own emotional worlds.
“Vega”, as he prefers to be called, has lived in the East Village of New York for the past 15 years. The pieces he has chosen for this exhibit have all been shot within blocks of his residence on East 6th Street. He did a tour of his show this evening. Vega, as we learned, studied at The Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara in the 70s. He moved to NYC directly afterwards with a sound knowledge of all the technical skills and the trained eye of a pro. He spent the next 20 years working in the field of high fashion, along side many of the top fashion photographers including Steven Meisel and Jacques Malignon.
These photos have a visual texture as rich as the characters he has chosen to study. His whites are sculptural; his blacks are full of detail. Each piece does have the full range of tone, white to black and seven shades of gray in between. These are photos shot using a wide range of cameras from a 1930’s Leica to a panoramic Polaroid.
Vega always printed up all his own work preferring to change the carrier, which holds the negative to print each picture individually. Sometimes creating the effect of a black rim border, or showing the sprockets and picture number on others.
All the work in this exhibit is figurative. He seems to be interested in creating a complex composition almost always with a contextual setting, many with reflections of the surrounding buildings. His characters, even if they are celebrities, seem to be existing in a space either physically or emotionally confining them uncomfortably.
His photos seem an interesting juxtaposition of visually rich and skilled photography chops and the grimier, earth-bound side of humanity.
The show remains up until January 3rd at Elsewhere Café 335 East 6th Street, NYC.