Simultaneously abstract and representative, Joshua Jensen-Nagle’s vivid works invite us to view the world from another perspective. In an interview with our galleries, photographer Joshua Jensen-Nagle shares the process and inspiration behind his effervescent, ephemeral body of work.
“I view [photography] as an opportunity to evoke emotion — I prefer to let the viewer attach their own feelings, memories, aspirations and associations to the work.”– Joshua Jensen-Nagle
What makes your work unique?
JJN: Photography is often used as a means to document a reality. I view it as an opportunity to evoke emotion. I prefer to let the viewer attach their own feelings, memories, aspirations and associations to the work. For this reason, many have come to view my work as dream-like. Most of the images appear almost painterly.
When did you start creating art?
JJN: I was fortunate to have a darkroom at my High School, Blair Academy, where I became fixated on making images around the age of 16. I would skip other classes just to spend more time in the photography lab. At that time I had no idea that I was creating art or would even end up doing it full time. My teacher encouraged me to continue my photographic studies and I moved to Canada to attend Ryerson University in Toronto. In my early twenties, following my final year of study at Ryerson, I started showing in galleries and had a better understanding of the medium I was working in.
Describe your process
JJN: I always liked the happy chance of painting on an image or shooting a Polaroid, where you weren’t exactly sure what was going to happen to it. When being in a helicopter you have to coordinate with the pilot, you can get a general sense of the composition you are trying to create but you get a bit of a happy accident of the shot being the perfect one.
What inspired you to move the vantage point from the beach to a bird’s eye view of it?
JJN: I did it about eight years ago in a plane, and it didn’t work out well at all. I didn’t have the right equipment; I didn’t have the right plane. But I was really just striving to find a new way to get excited about this imagery that I have been shooting for so long.
How has your work evolved over the years?
JJN: I started out photographing with an SX-70 polaroid camera, a very simple camera with a few adjustments that created a very unique image. It had a very soft lens and the colour palette was more pastel. I used that for nearly 8 years which evolved into painting on photographs or using dyes in tanks of water and rephotographing the images. As my work has evolved, I now shoot with the highest end digital cameras available, producing very large scale works – I think the largest print I’ve done was 6 foot by 10 foot, which I wouldn’t have been able to achieve before. They still carry some of the subtleties of my earlier days of experimentation… executed in a more modern and progressive manner.
What do you hope others see in your work?
JJN: I want viewers to be able to approach my work and bring their own ideas, memories and emotions to them. I want it to spark something inside of them so they can relate to it on a personal level.
To view Joshua Jensen-Nagle’s works in person, visit the gallery nearest to you.
Interview adapted from Curated by Creatives.