Tom Chambers: Magical Realist Photography at Modernbook

Photojournalists have risked their jobs manipulating images — as the Sacramento Bee's Bryan Patrick did in January — to produce the kind of work in Tom Chambers' Modernbook exhibit. Staging his photos, Chambers combines multiple images into a single frame, creating a stylish moody whole. A young women wearing a white dress really did walk with a blindfold over her eyes; a pack of menacing dogs with sharp teeth really did gallivant in an opposite direction; and somewhere in that mix was a cloudy day with rough terrain. Put them all together, as Chambers does in With the Pack, and you get a seamless photograph that is utterly Hitchcockian. Animals and people frequently interact in Chambers' renderings, with sunsets or sunlit rooms adding an ethereal layer. Chambers has called his work “magic realism,” and it has an obvious fairy-tale dimension. If only life were really like this, where we can hover in midair, be calm around wild animals, and use million-dollar estates as backdrops to our dramas of a higher order.

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