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Photographer Hans Neleman has developed an evocative illustrative style of photography that defies categorization. Using an assorted palette of art techniques that include collage, cut-film assemblage, sculpture, painting on images, intensely dramatic lighting and (more recently) computer imaging, he creates images that are both visually delightful and emotionally complex.

Much like that of his one-time teacher Duane Michals, Neleman's approach to photography places theme and idea above all else.

"I like to think that my work is concept-driven and in that sense I think everything is based on an idea," he says.

Interestingly, many of Neleman's still-life themes explore the same issues as Michals' work: life and death, the spirit, existence and the mystery of dreams and memories.
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In order to work out these themes in his still-life scenarios, he keeps his Soho studio stocked with an eclectic assortment of skulls, feathers, wings, broken dolls, bits of architectural detail and (for a short time, at least), a dried eel.

And also like Michals, Neleman believes that there should be very little division between commissioned assignments and personal work.

"If there's one thing I have learned, it's just to work from the gut, your heart, to do whatever inspires you," he says. "The best thing is not to run after what everybody else is doing. It's just doing what you feel is important. Finding a way to apply it to commerce is not your job. That, somebody else will do."
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