Carl's photography incorporates black and white photography and colour portraiture. He has used traditional (analogue) photography methods in the past i.e. film and using traditional processing methods to develop the film; creating the prints by hand in a dark room. He renders the black and white photographs, mostly high contrast as he finds this makes the pictures more atmospheric. Carl also more recently has taken courses in digital photography to BTEC level x2. Within his portraits (in both mediums) he has explored the relationship between the viewer and the subject. He achieved this by deliberately seeking out and incorporating people in his work who were on the fringes of society. The portraits ask the viewer specific questions about their preconceived ideas of people. These marginalised and sometimes suppressed groups provoke thoughts in the viewer and hopefully challenge the viewer (through his photographs) to regard the subjects in a new more positive light; freeing them of any preconceived ideas and prejudices. Carl's photographs are depictions of what inspires him. Currently nature: landscapes, portraiture and architecture.
Carl's sculpture and paintings takes its inspiration from a number of sources. As well as being influenced by the modernist genre he is predominantly inspired by the post modernist period. Within his sculptures he mainly tries to follow the concept of trying to create a piece of work that has vitality; from within that works in harmony with negative space and the surroundings. That is, trying to create work that has a presence and vitality in its own right.
The juxtaposed materials in his metal sculptures create tension. The rationale being, that the contrast of the different elements placed side by side create fusion were they meet; at the same time maintaining their unique identity. The contrast of the elements (straight and curved/long and short); create a dynamism as they “work” against each other were they touch. Additionally, the materials tell a story within their own right about their previous history during the manufacturing process.
Carl’s sculptures are influenced by constructivism and his paintings by surrealism. The surrealist element in most of his paintings and drawings and one of his sculptures deals with the subconscious. Carl does not try to create realism through the aforementioned media, believing that photography is more appropriate for this purpose. Instead, he attempts to capture the quintessence or vitality/energy of what he perceives through the creation of paintings and sculptures. Perhaps in his abstract paintings and sculptures of nudes, the totality of what woman symbolize to him on a psychological level; the fundamental nature of their power and magnificence. The characteristics of the surrealist style: being a combination of the depictive, the abstract, and the psychological.
The artists Carl considers most significant to his work include: Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Picasso and Anthony Caro. He views both Moore’s and Picasso’s work as a representation of the sublime rather than a hackneyed or superficial depiction of beauty (Gilbert-Rolfe, 1999). Kant considers; that the beautiful charms whilst the sublime moves (Gilbert-Rolfe, 1999). Moore’s: Picasso’s and Caro’s art appears to be influenced by nature or the essence of their subject. Parallels to Caro’s assemblages are reflected in Carl’s metal sculptures. Additionally, Russian Constructivist influences can be seen in his metal sculptures; containing elements indicative of an industrial, angular nature with geometric abstraction.
Carl has endeavoured with his sculptures to create works of art that have verve and a dynamism of their own that can exist in space (i.e. a powerful presence) with their own uniqueness; that stand out and have an impact on their surroundings. In a similar fashion to the way Carandente describes the work of Anthony Caro:
“…sculpture seen as an object of beauty, with forms that have a challenging presence in space, remains one of the most important aspects that art has known for thousands of years….Caro’s sculpture has guaranteed its continued survival” (Carandente, 1999:44).
A repetitive pattern can be observed within Carl’s metal sculptures in that the segments are interlaced and juxtaposed to produce a harmonious impression i.e. parts within the sculpture reflecting others in their shape and alignment etc. Carl gets his inspiration from diverse areas: including architecture and machinery, as well as including the human form. In a similar style as Moore (1981) was motivated by studying nature:
“…their shape is accidental, and merely to copy them would not in itself create a sculptural form. It is what I see in them that gives them their significance” (Moore, 1981:25).
Carl attempts to create works that he deems timeless. This is the reason that he considers the work of Moore and that of Epstein etc to be so inspiring: who he considers to have achieved Moore’s (1981) goal of creating sculpture that is “….permanent, should last for eternity” (Moore, 1981:86). These artists he believes have engaged their soul in the process of making art which is then reflected in their work:
“…the work takes shape and is crystallized as the integral symbol of a moment of life, an expression of the significance of life…”(Moore, 1981:7).
Although Carl does not intend to replicate other artist’s work and or style, he strives to achieve the vitality and beauty that is contained within these past masters work within his own. The vitality that Moore (1981) mentions:
“….I would like to think that my sculpture has is a force, is a strength, is a life, a vitality from inside it…”(Moore, 1981:130).
This characteristic is what grants their work a sense of presence instead of one of dullness and also accounts for their monumentality. Carl uses this characteristic as a benchmark when considering other artist’s work.
Carl obtains the most satisfaction from sculpture out of all the disciplines; this is due to the fact that he finds it the most challenging and or expressive, as it can be viewed from all angles:
“…the special advantage over painting – of having the possibility of many different views – is more fully exploited” (Moore, 1981:156) “…a continual, changing, never ending surprise and interest” (Moore, 1981:170).
Carl’s painting technique could be considered to be similar to some of Picasso’s paintings in that the images are surreal and the paint is applied in layers. He gains greatest enjoyment when applying paint with painting apparatus (rather than brushes), as he savours the freedom and serendipity that can be obtained when using such implements. This results in the paintings having a sculptural element to them: as the paint juts out in places from the canvas, giving them a three dimensional quality. Carl has made a series of paintings based on the Greek gods and goddesses, with contemporary reference which give insight into the nature of modern human relationships.