Benoit PailleRainbow Family member 39 (2011)

I can’t think of a contemporary image maker who casts a wider net than Paille.

In the last five years, he’s explored Crewdson-esque quasi-narrative, made a bunch of stuff with strobes mounted on drones, used a video game as a point of departure for landscape work, created realistic scenes via masterful Photoshop manipulation and made portraits of business owners in and around Paris.

Not all of it works. Yet, what’s surprising is how much of it does. And usually what makes that which works do so is a direct result of Paille’s fascination with surreal, psychedelia-inflected lighting.

The above is wonderful because of the subtle and dynamic gradation of skin-tone–red, purple, pink and peach tones that present with something like an inversion of the sky. (I’m saying it poorly–but think of the sky as if it were a positive and the woman as if she were a negative placed onto a positive field.)

The slight cant of the horizon and the way her reflected shadow goes completely black in the water all work together for an arresting, incisive image.

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