Art in Focus – Lonely Cloud
‘Chris Tuff, Lonely Cloud’. Clouds, however mundane they might seem at a first glance, are fascinating. Hamlet has famously contemplated them while mocking Polonius, William Wordsworth has compared himself to one in his enchanting poem Daffodils.
This photograph, although with obvious subject; sea, clear sky and a single fluffy cloud has some elements of abstraction. It could be even said that there are only two simple shapes and some texture. If abstraction can be a case of looking for the abstracted object or theme, clouds seem to be the natural answer for this. Who hasn’t looked for objects and shapes in clouds?
The relative darkness of the work and lack of shadows makes it difficult to infer the time of day, although the clear sky with the lonely cloud in it makes us think of a sunny one. This ambiguity is appealing and provokes the viewer into wondering about the story and the day behind the photograph. Especially as the sea is present, which brings to mind more
conventional scenes of people sunning themselves, children playing, of colour and light. Photographs differ from paintings as although the artist has some space to move in when creating the image; controlling the light entering the camera and his own position; unless significantly changing the work in postproduction, the subject is set once the shutter is pressed.
Chris Tuff uses here an unusual, almost square aspect ratio for the landscape to compress and focus his view. Adopting this form he restricts and concentrates the gaze of the viewer where in a wider ratio the onlooker could wander about the photograph more freely. Clouds come in all shapes and sizes; they look substantial, but are not. A photograph can also trick. It seems to be just a snapshot of a moment, but the moment can be actively modified by the artist.