My artistic practice has often involved the pairing of photographs. I find that image juxtapositions can both disrupt and stimulate the normal process of “reading” the images to extend, clarify or otherwise modify perceived meanings. Indeed, many photographers other than myself have experimented extensively with image pairings, including Ray Metzger, Nathan Lyons, and fellow Philadelphian James Abbott, to name just a few (Note that I consciously avoid the term “diptych” for these pairings because – as one of my art historian colleagues explained - a diptych is a continuous image in two parts, rather than a pairing of distinct images.)
In creating my own pairings, I sort through thousands of images from my own archive, looking for potential matches. When a pair works for me, an overall whole is created that is a synthesis of the two images while also preserving their individual integrity. Often, a “third” image is created that may be perceived simultaneously with the two individual images.
Blaise Tobia is a visual artist working primarily with photographic imagery. He studied at Brooklyn College (BA 1974) and the University of California at San Diego (MFA 1977), where he worked with artists in a variety of media including photographer Fred Lonidier, environmental artists Newton and Helen Harrison, and conceptual artists David Antin and Allan Kaprow.
After returning to New York, he was a documentary photographer for the CCF-CETA Artists Project (1978-79) and freelanced in studio photography. He began teaching at Drexel University in 1985 and was the founding director of its new major in photography. He then went on to teach in digital media and fine arts, and is currently an emeritus professor in the department of Art & Art History.
His primary subject matter over the past forty years has been urban landscape and global material culture, including a long-term project on the major cultural changes in Italy. He often utilizes paired imagery and other formal variations in his work, as well as book formats.
He has exhibited widely in both solo and curated small-group exhibitions – nationally and in the U.K., Italy and China. His most recent solo exhibitions include Artspace NC (Raleigh), Hillyer Art Space (Washington DC), University of the Arts (Philadelphia), Delaware Contemporary (Wilmington), and Arcobaleno (Rome, Italy). His exhibition for O.K. Harris Works of Art in 2013 included two series of paired works and was titled “Binary Codes.”
He also writes on art and on photographic theory, with recent pieces in Vasa Journal Online, the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Photography, Philadelphia ArtBlog, and Leonardo (co-authored with Virginia Maksymowicz).