Looking at the work of Carlos Tarrats gives the first impression of looking at a heavily manipulated digital image. It is anything but. Tarrats is an amazing conceptualist who follows a definitive premeditated approach to his work.
He quotes George Bernard Shaw, “Some people see things as they are and ask why? Others dream things that never were and ask why not?” In his still life photographs of plant life, Tarrats constructs within each scene the elements of life, death, hope and conflict. He explains that his realization of the subjectivity of seeing guides him to create images in a metaphorical and abstract way, allowing the viewer’s imagination to explore. He openly accepts interpretations of the images that might vary from his own. He says, “I like to use flora because, for the most part, it has no singular inherent meaning, and what meaning a particular species may have is typically not universal to all cultures or regions.”
Tension among the elements in each piece is a key to their intent. Tarrats says that he finds the versatility of plant life crucial to creating a sense of conflict, a sense of uncertainty of the outcome for the subject of each scene. He spends considerable time working with contrasts of color and composition to heighten that tension.
Tarrats’ message is so important that he refers to these plant photographs as “portraits.” He adds that these are not primarily self-portraits in any metaphorical sense, but rather more general investigations into life’s brief but extraordinary moments of being. He asks, “What if all of those moments were compressed into a single frame? How do you visually represent the sum of those moments?”