DO YOU KNOW THESE WOODEN JOINTED DOLL FIGURES MEANT TO BE USED AS MODEL PAINTING OBJECTS, BUT OFTEN USED AS DECORATION? THEY ARE THE MOST PATIENT MODELS AN ARTIST COULD WISH FOR. THE PERFECT SUBJECTS TO STUDY THE PHYSIQUE. UNLESS OF COURSE YOU HAVE THE POSSIBILITY TO WORK WITH A MODEL SUCH AS BREEZE REID.
I wish I could tell you more about today’s model but I really don’t know that much about him. It’s okay really as sometimes words don’t do credit to what the eye can discover all by itself. Breeze Reid is his name and he describes himself as a fitness trainer, model and brand influencer, and I believe every word of it. And we can add to that that Breeze is also a musician. Breeze resides in Los Angeles, the city that is also home to Tommy Wu.
In 2012, Tommy Wu was awarded first place from Photo District News (PDN) magazine’s Street Scene competition. In the same year, his work was also chosen to be exhibited at the American Photographic Artists (APA) “Off the Clock” juried show. His work has been shown in various shows throughout California. In his downtime Tommy works on independent film productions and is an amateur chef. Some people just seem to have all the talent in the world. Today we focus on Tommy’s first passion. Photography.
Photographer Tommy Wu was born in a town by the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. His Chinese family ran a hotel there until the communists came to power, and that initiated their move to the United States. Both in the Vietnamese town and in the wilds of Orange County where his family settled, the observant Tommy kept his eyes open to his surroundings, to landscapes, and as he reached his teenage years, to men. First as a painter and later as a photographer, he began to capture images that he found striking. And some of his first inspirations were in figure-drawing classes, those staples of art school that allowed artists of all kinds to learn about line and shadow. And of course anatomy.
Tommy met the model and musician Breeze Reid during a test shoot in 2014 and they decided to collaborate more. Matching up schedules took some time, though, and finally resulted in a studio session in April 2018. Tommy went back to figure-drawing class for inspiration and added a touch of mystery. All the work took place in his Los Angeles studio. In looking these photos, Tommy Wu felt he had captured Breeze at his most strong and also at his most vulnerable.
The Tommy from a few decades ago in art class would be pleased at the ranges of light and emotion he was able to capture. But the Tommy of art classes past would also know that most figure-drawing sessions never generated this much heat. His work with Breeze Reid is a perfect example of that. This set, which he simply calls Figure Study seems like a sketch study of the male body by Michelangelo. There is a certain poetry to Tommy’s work. And sometimes, seeing work that is just simple but simultaneously breath-taking, that is a breeze of fresh air. –BM-