Dark, obscure expressions of self, often juxtaposed with warm, sepia undertones. This is the photography of Kyle Thompson. His manipulation of the tangible into otherworldly stories brings my mind to the horror greats – HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe – where normal situations unfold into awkward unearthly scenes, leaving one with shivers lightly running down the spine and a healthy appetite for more. Kyle first found his unique, off-centre style when exploring abandoned houses in his neighbourhood, and from there his career took on a shape of its own. Many of his works are a reflection of self, a study in self-portraiture; beckoning one to consider their own inner emotions and why this image or subject calls to them in an inexplicable, almost primeval way. In a way they remind me of Polina Washington’s ethereal self-portraits, wispy and mysterious, offering up layers of interesting shapes and colours to mesmerise the viewer.
Kyle’s photography, however, is bolder in its manipulation and experimental aspects, often pushing his body to the extreme in order to properly portray the emotions he hopes to awaken and capture. In July last year, he went so far as to place himself in uncomfortable situations for his images, in order to convey the utmost authenticity, and feel the emotions he wanted to project more strongly.
“I ended up sleeping at the entrance of a storm drain in the middle of the desert recently, and woke up to hear three men walking around and nonstop screaming nearby. They wandered around for nearly 5 hours yelling at the top of their lungs and I heard their voices moving closer through the night. They never ended up finding me.”
Kyle Thompson’s solo creations and ability to produce compelling self-portraits are not his only accomplishments. He has also done some thought-provoking collaboration with artists, photographers and models. One of these was with Nicholas Scarpinato in 2013. “The sun was setting so we climbed on top of a big wood chip pile and jumped around and danced and kicked wood chips everywhere,” Kyle and Nicholas shared.
Two of Kyle Thompson and Nicholas Scarpinato collaborations
Kyle Thompson has made a name for himself internationally with his work showcased in the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Hi-Fructose, Urban Outfitters, Empty Kingdom, Dazed and Confused, National Geographic, Dolce & Gabbana’s Swide Magazine – and the list goes on. Most recently, his photography was at Lucca Art Fair in Italy from May 5-7th, displayed by aA29 Project Room. His artbook Somewhere Else is a beautiful curation of some of his best works to date. He’s also very active on social platforms, often telling followers and friends about his journey, his inspirations and the story behind particular images.