BECOMING THE HILTON BROTHERS
The Hilton Brothers, as an artistic identity, comes out of a series of collaborations between photographers Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg, begun while traveling some seven years ago. Finding that they were both drawn to similar subject matter when they were out in a foreign, beautiful location, they began to shoot the same subjects, almost as a joke. Back in the studio, looking at the printed results it was fascinating for them to see where their sensibilities merged and diverged. The idea of identity, who took which picture, and why was the difference discernable led them to begin a series of diptychs, where they would photograph separate objects and bring them together in one print: one plus one equals a third new artwork. So it seemed with their artistic identities, a blurring of individual egos seemed appropriate to proceed to explore other collaborative projects. Makos and Solberg began calling their collective works, and themselves, the Hilton Brothers.
During this period Makos was working on a book for Glitterati Publishers called Equipose, wherein he basically re-imagined and re-thought accepted imagery of horses. Rather than objectify the animals, he very much deconstructed them into their most intimately identifiable parts as individual personalities. The resulting images are perhaps the most interesting and contemporary work done in the equine portrait tradition since George Stubbs.
At the same time, Solberg had been independently working on a series of photographic flower "Portraits". Solberg's photographs of single flowers, exquisitely composed and lit, pare the images down to the intensity of color and form.
When Makos and Solberg spent time together proofing their respective works they realized that some of the flowers and horses, with their exquisite color and intriguing shapes made very strong images when combined and printed as diptychs.
The Hippofolium Portfolio is the result of this collaboration. Each diptych is the outcome of a rigorous process of selection, rejection and ultimate decision by Makos and Solberg. This is followed by a strenuous proofing process that brings together their unique eyes for detail, form and color, so that each individual print stands strongly on its own as a true statement of shared vision from these two very different, very talented artists.
HOW THEY MET
Makos and Solberg met on their bicycles and eight years later--they're still on their bicycles.
It was organic and instantaneous and they had little say in the matter. They met and unconsciously started to collaborate, putting ideas together, sharing the process of taking pictures of the same subjects. Comparing experiences, “what did you see… this is what I see”. A well healed seasoned career of Makos’ colliding with a fresh an instinctual talent of Solberg, an exchange that informed there was something interesting and unusual going on, before it was defined as “collaboration”.
With cameras in hand, the bike rides turned to car trips and car trips turned into plane rides. Back and forth to Cowboy country, USA, to Cairo, Saigon, Palermo, Lanzorate, and back again. Both are plagued with insatiable curiosity for everything--unless they're uninterested. Every location is their favorite, including their home, NYC, where they treat Manhattan life as though they are tourists, smart tourists, full of wonder. They're innate Anthropologists with cameras. Sitting on a bench anywhere in the world and staring at peoples faces. Unconscious relentless observation.
CREATING ANDY DANDY
The Hilton Brothers latest collaboration, ANDY DANDY, is a portfolio of 20 digital pigment prints. All are diptychs that combine images from Makos "Altered Image" portraits of Andy Warhol with flower images from Solberg's "Bloom" series.
The images of Andy Warhol in "Andy Dandy" are the result of a 1981 collaboration between Makos and Warhol called "Altered Image", through which the photographer and his subject used unexpected combinations of simple elements to explore Identity, as did Man Ray (Makos' mentor) and Duchamp decades earlier. Warhol slightly altered his appearance with make-up and a wig, otherwise remaining in his street clothes. It was all the outward change Warhol felt he needed. Andy said, "I'm not trying to look beautiful like Elizabeth Taylor, I'm trying to show what it feels like to be beautiful like Elizabeth Taylor."
Solberg undertook his study of flowers as an exercise in using light to reveal the elemental purity of a subject otherwise encumbered by overexposure and banality, resulting in sensitive portraits rather than still life images. Like the "Altered Image" photos, many of Solberg's flowers are isolated subjects against a white background. This common white ground in the ANDY DANDY diptychs brings the disparate images into balance. ANDY DANDY considers the rich association between Andy Warhol and flowers by creating a beautiful and intriguing dialogue between Makos' and Solberg's work.
Andy wasn't the kind of dandy to wear a flower in his lapel, but as ANDY DANDY demonstrates, sometimes by just altering the image of one's work or oneself, a new beauty blooms.
---Peter Wise, NYC, APRIL 2, 2008