These images are examples of possibility within the realm of the impossible.  Photography lends itself to the creation of reality.  I use photography for the performance of an idea.  Allegorical narratives are established between the visual elements of an image using metaphor and symbolism for meaning. The stories present a proposition for the viewer to interpret.  The title, Passages, is short for Passages from Untold Fairy Tales.  This phrase eludes to the image being a page from a lost story and invites the viewer to imagine the story.  

I consider these images to be of a genre known as Magic Realism.  Magic Realism is less coincidental than Surrealism and is not a fantasy set in the unreal.  In a fusion between physical and psychological states, mundane elements are endowed with deeper meaning while staying grounded in physical reality.  My style relies on the assumption that photographic reality is true in some way.  

When we are confronted between believing what we see or what we know, we will usually choose what we see.  Fantasy relies on this human tendency.  Art at its best activates the thinking process to ponder, wonder, emote, relate and somehow cause a new experience to take place.  

Westword's Best Solo Photo Show - 2011
Westword’s Best of Denver
Best Solo Photo Show – 2011
John Bonath – Blurring the Edges

Denver’s wizard with Photoshop, as well as makeup and costuming – is John Bonath, whose solo Blurring the Edges filled the funky and charming Camera Obscura Gallery to its rafters with magic-realist photos of people in oddball settings.  To produce his images, Bonath sets up scenes using actual materials, then makes up his models and dresses – or undresses – them before taking multiple shots and combining them in a computer, creating montages.  Sometimes he even goes in and paints the images after they’ve been printed.  Though not a retrospective, the show included several bodies of work by Bonath that spanned the last few decades, providing some nostalgic history for a gallery that’s been the city’s photo specialist since the 1970’s but will soon be closing for good.


Installation Shots

Other Fabrications for Fun

Original 3-D version of Passage from an Untold Fairy Tale

Passage from an Untold Fairy Tale / center image: lacquered silver print,selectively dyed and bleached / frame: oil painted with plaster casts of models hands and painted, plastered frogs

Commentary on ``The Kiss``


In 2009, this piece won the “Best of Show” award in the exhibition “The Art of Photography Today” at The Camera Obscura Gallery.  “The Kiss” has also had recognition in a number of magazines.  In 2015, this piece was featured in an exhibition at the Arvada Center for the Arts entitled “Conscious, Unconscious”.  This is the statement written on this image for the show.  

“The Kiss” is about our conscious explorations into the sub-conscious mind.  This gray chamber is a metaphor for the inside of the brain with a lot of mind chatter and faces talking to ourselves. It is a womb-like place with an updraft through the entry portal.  The woman is drawn to touch one face over the others with a meditative focus.  As she reaches out and touches it, it subtly begins to flush with color, bringing it a little closer to life and into the conscious realm.  The scenario is much like Alice In Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole into this other -worldly place within us.  

Most of what you see here was actually constructed for the camera and establishes the basis for the picture.  After photographing the construction, what was done in the computer crystallizes the idea and takes the image’s reality to place of its own beyond what was in front of the camera.  Ultimately, there is no “right” or “wrong” interpretation of this image.  It is open for the viewer to find their own meaning in.

Some Earlier Allegorical Propositions with Models (pre-digital)

The Human Form Quartet & Related Nude Studies

Related Work



The Forest

A Strange Beauty - Still Life


    Copyright John Bonath 2019