Paul Cupido: 4 a.m.

“Moon woke me up
  nine times
— still just 4 a.m.”

                                    Matsuo Bashō

4 a.m is the first UK solo exhibition from Dutch photographer, Paul Cupido (b.1972).  


Cupido’s photographic practice centres around the search for beauty in the ephemerality of life. His affinity for the natural world was initially born out of a childhood spent on the island of Terschelling, Netherlands, and informed his interest in reflecting the impermanence and fleetingness of life through the changing seasons, the ebb and flow of tides, and the cycles of the moon.   


Ephemeral, abstract and dream-like, Cupido’s work is inspired by Japanese photography as well as his travels there.  His subjects encompass landscape, portraiture, and still life; presenting stylised compositions in which shadowy figures float in abstracted settings, and natural forms emerge from darkness -  complete, but seemingly unattached to the concrete world.  


The influence of Japanese art and philosophical principles – especially that of ‘mu’  permeates Cupido’s creative practice. An important concept in Zen tradition and Buddhist teaching, the term mu in Japanese translates loosely as “have not” or “without”.  Advocates propose it as a way of breaking through the ‘conceptual fog’ that can get in the way of true experience or enlightenment, suggesting that we equally consider what isn’t seen/obvious, with what is.  This invitation to look beyond the visible, to consider the ‘negative’ space, the ‘shadowlands’ feels a core part of the experience of engaging with Cupido’s economy of form and lyrical compositions.  There’s always more than meets the eye. 


Cupido works with analogue film and digitally, shooting widely while on his travels and reflecting back on the results some time later to enable a renewed journey of discovery. He favours analogue printing, where he harnesses simple techniques such as water droplets or light flares to add surrealist effects and is rigorous in his attention to the quality of printing and his choice of paper stock.In addition to his limited-edition pigment prints, Cupido has also produced a carbon print diptych with gold sheet and cyano-pigments and a set of Toyobo technique prints using non-toxic chemicals on metal plates.


 “I aim to engage with the world with wide-open senses. My work is about the magic moments of life as well as its inconveniences… Through photography, I learned to see and accept the true beauty of the essence of life.”   - Paul Cupido


Limited edition prints are available from £1,175 + VAT.  Please get in touch for more information: / +44 (0)20 70879300


Visit us : The Photographers' Gallery, 16–18 Ramillies Street, London, W1F 7LW