Internationally acclaimed photographer and conceptual fine artist Tim Tadder believes he has an innate duty to create social awareness through his work. His latest collection of portraits called ‘Black is a Color’ is a masterclass in tonality and form which looks beyond the binary view of race.
If you’re not much of an art aficionado you may not know Tim Tadder by name, but you will definitely have seen his work.
Heading up photography and commercial directing responsibilities for global brand campaigns over the last 20 years – with a clientele including Ninja, Aaron Gordon, Anthony Davis, and Ice Cube, to name but a few – the Californian creative has also earned his chops in the world of fine art since 2012.
By its very nature, photography intends to encapsulate one poignant moment in time and engender deeper thought about its superseding message. In that sense, Tadder’s practiced ease has translated beautifully into his independent art. Focusing on the complexities of the ‘human experience’ regarding systemic socio-political issues such as civil rights, free speech, equality, and race, Tadder’s abstract portraits are as thought provoking as they are visually striking.
With an intent to show humanity in its truest and most basic form, Tadder strips away what he defines as ‘differentiators’ and ‘identifiers’ – unique features like hair, skin colour, and clothing – to show what we all share beyond our superficial differences ‘at the core.’
Candid as the expressions of his models often are, Tadder aims to leave an artistic stamp on periods of ‘strife and anxiety,’ and felt compelled to pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement as it reached a fever pitch of momentum in 2020. In my recent conversation with the man himself, Tadder revealed, ‘I wanted to explore a non-literal and unconventional way to share with people a different point of view. A view that boldly illustrates a slice of what is missed by a binary approach to race.’
Referencing legendary singer/songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone, Tadder continued, ‘You can’t help it, an artist’s duty is to reflect the times.’ And it’s from this unceasing desire that the collection ‘Black is a Color’ was born.
Described by Tadder as an ‘unintentional trilogy’ to his two prior collections, ‘Black is a Color’ is a stunning series of head profile shots showing black models covered in myriad blends of primary and secondary colours. Initially covered in black paint around a quarter inch thick, vivid marbling mixtures of different hues were poured over the top of the head to create this otherworldly dripping effect. Take it from me, once you see the images, you find yourself returning time and time again.
‘We used well over 40 gallons of non-toxic paint to create a variety of paint viscosities,’ said Tadder when asked about the logistics of the shoot.
‘This process took several days to fully perfect. The images capture the beauty of simplicity and the way the paint dripped off the subjects heads was impeccable and created an unexpected, yet incredible tonality.’