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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Stuart Redler: Black and White Africa. until 18 May


Mountain Zebra – Mountain Zebra National Park, Cradock, South Africa. Cradock is about 500 miles east of Cape Town. Photo by Stuart Redler

Most of the family came to visit us in West Africa as my young brother had malaria. So many people in so much silence. I was sent to share a bedroom with an unknown and snoring aunt and asked to do my needs in the boy’s toilet, infested with giant flying cockroaches, as I was too loud… my mornings were spent in the garden reading tales to my dog, cats and uninvited margouillats. I would lunch in the kitchen with the boy and discreetly, sneak in my neighbours’ garden. I had to push a green magic door. Sometimes it was open and sometimes not. All of a sudden, the green door was always open in the afternoons. La black Mama was telling me tales I had never heard and were as beautiful and scary if not more as those in my books. I was never told off for disappearing as nobody noticed. I became a black child in a white family and nobody noticed. All was magical apart from the silence back home. Then one day, the entire family was crying with joy, smiling, celebrating and I had to accompany them to the airport and kiss them goodbye. Why would I kiss people who probably didn’t know my name and I repeated a tale I heard in the magical garden “always bring a small gift when you go somewhere and you didn’t bring me anything”. I flew across the airport. Malaria was a joke!
Here I am today, watching mosquitoes head banging at my Hackney“an” window  . It’s not even a hot spring and I conclude that mosquitoes have mutated into resisting vampires carrying malaria. I suppose doctors have some good laughs when they meet and talk about their patients.
Last week, the Guardian Guide listed a B&W Africa, travel photography by Stuart Redler, Jaggerdart gallery. Of course, I know Don McCullin’s B&W pictures from Africa or Sebastiao Salgado B&W wild life’s images, and one can expect colour when it comes to Africa or animals. But here the challenge is landscape. African landscape in B&W! Entering the gallery, I immediately felt that I could walk in those landscapes although I wished the space was bigger to shelter those images. Giant photos representing part of Africa that I have yet to discover: South Africa, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Stuart’s photographs are unified by striking aesthetic and geometric architectural structures to tumultuous landscapes, unusual perspectives and a rich texture print à la Salgado.
With a highly distinctive photographic style, Stuart’s contemporary black and white images are accentuated by the bright African sunlight and the strong deep shadows. After shooting with Mamiya and Leica medium format cameras, Stuart edits and hand prints each series of images, a highly important part of the process which often takes more time than the trip itself.
The unmistakable African-ness of these photographs stems from Stuart’s affection for the continent, demonstrated by his repeated visits. On this recent trip, Stuart’s route encircles the Kingdom of Lesotho a landlocked country surrounded by its only neighbouring country, the Republic of South Africa. The eastern part of the route is sub tropical, hot and wet in summer, whereas the western part, towards Kimberley, is hot and dry in summer. The two landscape photos were shot in the Eastern Cape, in Mountain Zebra National Park. Created in the 1930’s the park is a conservational success story now protecting over seven hundred zebra as well as endangered black rhino and cheetah. Included in the exhibition are photographs of the Wagendrift damn in KwaZulu Natal on the Bushman's River, which feeds from the Drakensberg mountains. The traditional beehive huts were photographed in KwaZulu Natal and near Johannesburg.
Until 18 May 2013

Jaggedart, 28a Devonshire Street, Off Marylebone High Street, London W1G 6PS
Baker Street
Times: Wed - Fri: 11:00 - 18:00 Sat: 11:00 - 14:00 Other times by appointment
Admission:      free


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