Jeff Bark’s work epitomizes photography’s return to pictorialism, a movement which first arose in the second half of the 19th century when the novelty of photographic accuracy began to fade. Macabre, voyeuristic and intimate, Bark’s works are constructed fictions reminiscent of painting (Ingres, Fischl and Carravagio’s opulent dramas of light and tone), fairy tales (the Brothers Grimm) and film (David Lynch). These elaborate mise-en-scènes explore contemporary urban themes such as the trials of adolescence and consumerism’s emotional debris. The luminous and dream-like qualities of Bark’s images draw you in, yet close inspection reveals his subjects to be engaged in ominous or perverse actions. Bark hints at our interior worlds of fractured identities, the result of disharmony between nature and culture. He does this by juxtaposing the illusion of painting (perception) with the reality contained in the photograph (document) and by highlighting human instinct and vulnerability. These images are a celebration of ritual and the hidden states of being – mysterious scenes with mythic themes and subtle sexual undertones. Bark’s use of allegory to explore desire, isolation and greed produces a profound sense of the uncanny. Jeff Bark (born 1963) lives and works in New York. This is his first exhibition in Canada.