Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Portrait meets psychedelic-dreamscape—that’s one of many ways to describe the collection of Raphael Avcioglu’s photography. If a Tame Impala track were to escape the speakers and sprawl across an old school projector, one could imagine it highly resembling Avcioglu’s “Nem Pole”.
Pursuing the study of graphic design and photography at Michigan State University, the influence of digital manipulation is heavy on Avcioglu’s portrait and landscape photography. From cityscapes to starry nights, to women lit up in bathtubs, Avcioglu’s work is a colourful array of industrial meets cosmic.
Bringing the “graphic” to his photographic style, Avcioglu often combines long exposure shots with vibrant edits. “Gramitix” lies on a backdrop of stars, while the forefront of the image stands apart on a translucent square of unique triangle designs.
Similarly, “Only Time Will Tell” sets digitally manufactured circles against a forested background, each circle a portal to another corner of the scene.
Avcioglu reflects the shutter speed’s ability to halt time by including circular windows that overlay the image, capturing the same background in different moments. Tendrils of fog stand still, the details of their movement so expertly captured as to convince the viewer that their immobility is illusory.
In “Fill My Bath With Colour”, a seductive woman lies in an empty bathtub clad in a string of golden party lights. A fuchsia wash ignites her eyes, matching her lingerie and colouring the tiled washroom with a Viva Las Vegas-meets-Miami Vice atmosphere. Giving “Fill My Bath With Colour” an edgy splash of neon attitude, the woman’s gaze is confrontational yet vulnerable, challenging from an empty tub as if to say, “I’m alone, let’s party—can you handle it?” As an artist Avcioglu describes himself as pressured by “self-doubt mixed with enough adrenaline to run a marathon.” Partially nocturnal, he is often awake “when the best stars are out,” which not only explains the nightlife aesthetic for much of his work, but also enables his experimentation with astro-photography.
While in “The Chair Ain’t Big Enough For the Two of Us”, Avcioglu exposes his ability to resist intense editing effects, but still tends to prefer noticeable touch-ups, relenting to his need to colour the world around him and leave his mark upon it. “I feel the need to voice myself…vent through my edits.”
Take the aforementioned “Nem Pole,” for example. While the shot itself is a crisp capture of a city-sprawl, the psychedelic spillage of displaced buildings—contained within a circle in the sky—keeps the viewer entranced. Sporadic chunks of colour stain the city, a toxic looking yellow seeping from the edge of the horizon. “Nem Pole” is a testament to Avcioglu’s editing ability to transform a standard urban landscape into a colourful twist of ecstasy for the eye.
“As an artist I like to experiment with many different things, try new angles, learn new tools, acquire new accessories and have fun,” Avcioglu told InSpades. Though Avcioglu has various interests like playing the drums, painting, and watching documentaries, his main interest lies in photography.