by Christopher Armstrong on June 17, 2016
I came across the work of David Krovblit at this year’s Photo Independent in Los Angeles. While I was obviously attracted to his images, the thing that instantly drew me in was the presentation — a beautifully printed image behind a massive 2.5 cm (1 in) piece of plexiglass. Layering prints between panels of plexiglass is nothing new, but when you hear the story behind David’s images, you’ll understand his thinking on the presentation.
I reached out to David for a quick Q&A to get an idea of his creative process is and how he came to shooting of all things, Faberge hand grenades. Thank you David!
CA: On your website, I’ve seen both fine art and advertising photography, do you spend more time on one? Or do you find equal time for both? Which do you prefer?
DK: It is true. Currently the imagery ebbs and flows between ads and fine art. My work has always rode the line between the two, sometimes spilling over one way or the other. In the past year and a half, I have found myself being drawn to fine art. Although I love the collaboration element of advertising, I really love the autonomy art provides me. I create what I want, on my terms.
CA: Tell me the story behind the Fabergé hand grenade images. How, why, and what’s next?
DK: The story of the Faberge Grenade series is truly unique. Along with irony and juxtapositions, it really makes for an interesting series.
The egg is a symbol of life. A grenade is shaped like an egg, but is a symbol of entirely the opposite.
A Faberge egg: so delicate and priceless you wouldn’t want to hold it. A grenade: so volatile and destructive you wouldn’t want to hold it. The juxtapositions are interesting, but not as fascinating as the history...
Carl Faberge, was commissioned by the Tzar to make a get-well gift for his wife. He created the first egg. Faberge would go on for many years making these beautiful creations. He did this right up until around WWI. Now, it is important to understand that Faberge was one of the biggest jewelers in Europe at the time, with over 500 people in his Moscow factory alone. So, he understood production and working with metals i.e. gold, silver, etc. And finally, he was a friend of the Tzar and a royal jeweler. This is why he was given the commission to make grenades and other metal items for the war. He made over 6.5 million grenades in his Moscow factory.
How ironic that he would start out by creating this egg — a symbol of life, and many years later he would produce grenades; a symbol of something so destructive and life taking! These images are full of dichotomies and tension. They are visually arresting and very provocative, but carry the weight of history in their back story.
AS for whats next… I am moving to Los Angeles late September and am hoping to finalize this series in a unique way. With the help of a few investors I am going to make 3 real grenade sculptures and put them on display. Imagine a finely crafted platinum grenade, bedazzled with precious jewels! My aim is to take one and pack it full of powder, then document it being blown to smithereens!
CA: How long have you been working with the grenade concept?
DK: The grenades have been on-going from 2015 until present. Every time I think I am done, something new pops up and inspires new imagery.
CA: Are there any new images in the grenade series that you’re working on?
DK: I have a couple more ideas for grenades. Currently I am working on a series of “Imperial Munitions”. I am also researching the history of ceramic grenades used by the Japanese in WW2. We will see if it comes together.
CA: How many hours go into creating an image in this series. Are they actually painted? Or are they composited images?
DK: The grenades are photographed and real Faberge art is composited on in Photoshop. Many many hours are spent on each image to get the realism and shadowing just right. The fact that the final images are almost 4ft magnifies all the detail, so I really have to scrutinize the final images before printing. Each image comes with its own set of issues and curve balls. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to get to the final image.
CA: As with most photographer’s work (especially fine art), your work is best seen in person and big — digital images just don’t do them justice. That being said, do you have any upcoming shows where people can see your work up close and personal?
DK: Speaking of seeing them in person, I would also like to note that the entire 1st edition is mounted “face to plexi”, with a 1-inch thick plexi glass. It truly is a different beast. And, it is also interesting to note that inch thick plexi is reminiscent of bullet proof glass. So it’s like you are standing behind the safety glass when you are viewing them.
Faberge Grenades will have a two month solo exhibit in September 2017 at the Lois Lambert Gallery in Bergamot Station. A few pieces are on display at the AC Gallery in Los Angeles and Dimensions Gallery in Toronto.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Krovblit’s work is influenced by his interaction with the everyday world. His interpretation and response to the common is intriguing and thought provoking – his art engaging, personal and relevant.
Krovblit’s work is an experience, both visual and cerebral. Each new piece exhibits well-crafted, colourful images steeped in highly conceptual, contemporary themes. Exploring social commentary, you can usually find a streak of humour running straight through his work. Pieces often incorporate compositing and retouching techniques that show his keen eye for detail and experience with the medium.
Krovblit studied Photography at Ryerson University. His career spans over a decade, working professionally as an advertising photographer, shooting many national and international brands and campaigns. He has won numerous awards and recognition for his work in the field.