Mati Gelman, “Joel”, Date Unknown, Trending Deities Series, Photograph, Computer Graphics
Born in Hungary, Mati Gelman is a commercial and fine art photographer who spent his early years living in Israel. Interested in the processes of nature and humans’ interaction with them, he initially pursued a vocation in the field of science and earned a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a Masters of Science in Chemistry from the Bar Han University in Tel Aviv. Upon moving to New York City in 2015, Gelman decided to enhance his self-taught photographic skills with technical courses at the International Center for Photography and the Pratt Institute, both located in Manhattan.
Gelman’s work aesthetic focuses on the connections between the forces of nature and the human body. His images explore the issues of human integration with nature, sexuality, and queerness; they are heavily influenced by legends and fairytales, which have had a lasting impact on human society. Gelman tends to create scenes which provoke an ominous sensation in order to induce a sense of the unknown. As human beings are pattern recognizers and often prescribe meaning to unaccustomed phenomena, the elements of Gelman’s works are intentionally left open to the viewers’ interpretations.
Mati Gelman creates stories and shapes his characters through both his imagination and his life experiences. His work is a blend of photography and computer graphics. Using a Sony a7R11 with a 24-70 lens, Gelman photographs his posed subjects and continues his work with Lightroom for minor adjustments and Photoshop for the basic effects. Gelman won the ViewPoint Gallery International Photography competition for his work entitled “Flight”, an image of a figure mid-air surrounded by billowing cloth in the light of a sunset. His “Entangled”, a figure seemingly suspended by strips of white cloth, won first place in the 2018 Chromatic Awards. Gelman has also won awards at the Annual Fine Art Photography Awards, FAPA, in 2019 and 2020.
Besides his fine art photography, Gelman has executed photo shoots for off-Broadway theater productions. He shot the promotional images for playwright and director Asher Gelman’s 2018 theater production, “Afterglow”, a character study which explored the dynamics of an open gay relationship involving three personality archetypes. Mati Gelman’s work also includes photo shoots for the following plays: “Diaspora”, “Safeword”, “Eco Village”, “Counting Sheep”, “We Are the Tigers”, and “Medusa”.
The title image “Joel” and the middle insert image, title unknown, are from Mati Gelman’s “Trending Deities” series which explores the parallels between ritual and worship in both religion and social media. Using both modern and traditional references throughout the series, Gelman’s work uses cinematic proportions as a reference to smartphone screens and, by multiplying the characters and placing them in ritualistic activities, depicts the virtual cult-like following that is adherent on social media platforms. The color palettes and compositions were inspired by Renaissance, Greco-Roman, and Medieval art.
The work of Mati Gelman can be found at the artist’s sites: https://www.matigelman.com and Instagram @matigelman .