Peter Dusek’s monochromatic photographs seek to distill life in order to let subtlety and simplicity guide the senses. Dusek is influenced by Japanese art, specifically by the aesthetic shibumi — a celebration of the understated beauty that surrounds us — and the traditional art of sumi-e (ink wash) painting.
“In today’s world, the eyes and the soul are assaulted by myriad things, causing us to lose our focus [and become] blinded to the simple beauty hidden around us,” Dusek says. “We sometimes need to step back from our modern, cluttered world. Instead of our never-ending grasping for more and more, my message is that the simple beauty of ‘less’ is where people can find their peace and happiness.”
ASMP: You liken your fine-art photography to the Japanese aesthetic shibumi, meaning “a quiet elegance.” When and how did you come to know shibumi?
Peter Dusek: I have always been drawn to the simplicity and beauty of Japanese design and my work has gravitated in that direction naturally on its own. It was not until I started researching and learning more about Japanese art that I realized that out of all of their aesthetic principles, shibumi was the one that best described what I have been creating: the subtle beauty found in the natural and man-made world. I still have a lot to learn and will continue to explore various aspects of Japanese design. I am really enjoying the journey.
ASMP: What is the concept behind the series, “Tranquility?” Where and when did you photograph the landscape series?
PD: My goal with “Tranquility” is to show people that sometimes we need to step back from our modern, cluttered world and our constant bombardment by sights and sounds. Instead of our never-ending grasping for more and more, my message is that the simple beauty of “less” is where people can find their peace and happiness. I have been told that visitors to the exhibition felt an immediate sense of quiet peace as they entered the room. Most of the pieces were created in the past year in the countryside surrounding Toronto, where I live. It is such a beautiful area, so I did not have to go far to find what I was looking for.
ASMP: What influenced the monochrome color palette of “Tranquility?”
PD: I have been making most of my work in monochrome and find that it perfectly suits the feelings of elegance, subtleness and tranquility that I am trying to elicit. From a visual point of view I have been influenced by traditional Japanese art on natural materials, such as sumi-e painting, by Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto, as well as by other photographers such as Michael Kenna and David Fokos. And from a spiritual point of view, I have had a strong interest in the Taoist and Zen philosophy most of my adult life.
ASMP: In the past, you worked as a computer consultant and programmer. Why did you make the switch to photography after 20 years in the information technology industry?
PD: I have always been most energized by a love for constant learning and the creativity that is part of software design and programming. I find that photography is even more creative and is limitless in its potential. The only limits are what you yourself can reach.
ASMP: Have you won any other awards for your work?
PD: I have been participating in shows for a year and a half and have won the Juror’s Choice award for the “Awakenings” show at the Headwaters Arts Gallery in Ontario. Recently, I have been selected as one of the ten emerging artists from all of Ontario for a show by the Ontario Society of Artists, which is the oldest and most esteemed art organization in the province.
ASMP: You are both a commercial photographer and a fine-art photographer. How do keep both areas of work going strong?
PD: Recently, the fine-art side has been going especially strong. My first solo show, “Tranquility,” at Abbozzo Gallery in Toronto this past spring, was met with very positive reception by its visitors, and the entire exhibition ended up selling out two and a quarter times over. I continue to pursue and build my commercial work wholeheartedly as opportunities present themselves. As a member of Rotary International, I also like to contribute my photography skills to various documentary projects for our club.
ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member? What initially prompted you to join?
PD: I have been a member since the start of this year. I joined so I could be part of the community of photographers who share business resources, best practices, photography techniques and ideas, especially in the areas of fine art and architecture.
ASMP: What has made you stay an ASMP member?
PD: I love being able to keep up with the latest trends that come from reading the ASMP forums. The regular live webinars about the industry have also been of strong interest to me. My goal has always been for all sides in business relationships to mutually benefit when working together, and the deep ASMP knowledge base and forums have given me the confidence to make it happen.