You may find Pacific Palisades resident Carol Kleinman staring at windows, her camera at her eye, on the Santa Monica Pier, at the Westside Farmers market, or on the streets of Paris, New York or Moscow. She is on a treasure hunt to discover the many layers of reality that reflections create, and to bring it all to life through her unique photographs on display at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Station.
Each reflection Kleinman captures is a moment in time – a glimpse of life that exists for a second on a reflective surface. Her images have a sense of other-worldliness as surfaces reveal layers, and expose relationships that escape the casual glance. She prints these images on canvas for added texture and to blur the line between photography and painting.
Family Day At Santa Monica Pier. Photo by Carol Kleinman
“Though it’s hard for some viewers to comprehend, my canvases are not paintings, not collages, not assemblage and not multiple images layered together,” Kleinman said. “They are single exposures… a unique expression of the complexity of the world in which we live.”
Kleinman’s fascination with reflections began 20 years ago on the train between Moscow and St Petersburg Russia. She was looking out the window, watching the Russian countryside go by, when she noticed the reflection on the window creating multiple images in layers. The reflections merged the inside and outside worlds and she wondered if she could capture images like this with her camera.
“I shot a bunch of pictures and haven’t stopped since,” she said.
Sunday Morning At The Market #1 Photo by Carol Kleinman
These days, in the tradition of street photographers like the French master Eugene Atget, Kleinman is a “flaneur”, a wanderer who strolls the streets in search of powerful images.
“A critical element in my work is the direct connection it has to reality. A window reflection will captivate me and draw me in,” she said. “I lose all track of time as I work finding just the right light, just the right angle and just the right moment when the layers of interior and exterior come together.”
Kleinman says she wants to encourage people to look more closely at the world and see the richness and depth of everyday experience. She strives to have the viewer “look more deeply…notice the complexities of life…enrich yourself with the wonders that surround you at each moment.”
Nothing she does is set up or manufactured. What you see in her images is what she saw.
Superman At The Farmers Market . Photo by Carol Kleinman
Reflecting on the way she works, Kleinman says “I must admit I look a bit odd to others because I’m constantly shooting windows from all kinds of different angles, bending down, leaning this way and that just to get the right reflective image. Often when I take pictures I get strange looks and occasionally the question ‘What are you taking a picture of?’”
Back in her studio she spends countless hours scouring her images looking at the details to see what fascinating and surprising aspects of reality they reveal.
“I ask myself what intrigues me, which of these mysteriously fractured images moves me emotionally, which make me smile, which give me a sense of peace or beauty,” she said. “Often I don’t even know why an image appeals to me, it just resonates with something inside me.”
Kleinman is a member of TAG Gallery, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. She said she took an interest in the gallery since its inception in 1993 but was finally accepted 10 years later.
Rainy Day At Santa Monica Beach.Photo by Carol Kleinman
“When I heard about it, I wanted to be a member immediately. I loved the idea of artists working together to create a space where they could show their art. But at the time I was commuting to Moscow, Russia for work and couldn’t make a full commitment. I remember driving by the Gallery and thinking one day I would be there…I was determined.”
Finally in 2003, 10 years later, when she was back home full time in LA, she was ready and applied. “I was accepted and have loved being a part of this extraordinary gallery ever since,” she said.
Carol was born in Hawaii and spent her formative years on the island of Oahu and in San Francisco. She attended the University of Hawaii, Lone Mountain College in San Francisco and holds a Master’s Degree from Claremont College. She has been creating art all her life and over the years has worked in a wide variety of media. For the past 20 years, her work has centered around photography. She has won many awards for her work and has been recognized in shows in Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Moscow. Carol lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband Bert who is a radio consultant. They have 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren.