Striking Portraits That Bring Everyday People and Art History Together

Tami Bahat's Renaissance-inspired portrait series 'Dramatis Personae' is a gorgeous fusion of photography and painting.

“I feel like I’m channeling another lifetime,” says photographer Tami Bahat about her Renaissance-inspired portraits in her Dramatis Personae tableaux series. The photos find pensive, costumed people with unique set pieces, live animals, and other ephemera. Bahat’s moody photographs conjure the vanitas paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, complete with antique frames. It’s a gorgeous blend of modern and historical, full of symbolism and quiet emotion. The artist will have her first solo exhibition in Los Angeles on Saturday, January 6 at Building Bridges Art Exchange in Bergamot Station. From a Building Bridges press release:

Bahat’s style and spirit guides — Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Vermeer, perhaps Whistler, and a hint of Bill Viola — are Old Masters who when not on commission but rather on their own time painted the regular people known to them, the household staff, the maids, guards, and farmers. In Bahat’s quest to prove that beauty is for everyone, her work has become increasingly exotic and ambitious, diverse and inclusive. “Working with animals, children, and untrained actors,” she laughs. “It’s alive, unpredictable. One time, a baboon grabbed the paintbrush and went for the easel — and it was all her own idea!” She is committed to using people from her own life as her models rather than professionals. (The animals handlers are pros.) “As I transform them into art, I bring them into my world. The photographs are our relationships.” Believing that art lives in the humanity of everyday people, she creates her work by measuring this magnanimity against art history, concluding that prettiness doesn’t leave a lot of room for imagination.

©Tami Bahat, published with permission of Building Bridges Art Exchange