_in memoriam /abbas 1944 – 2018

© Reprinted from 08 April 1999 / Picture magazine_ Abbas. A State of Grace  / Renay Elle Morris

From the country of a thousand and one nights, one journalist’s ambitious reportage covering twenty nine countries in four continents.

It was the brilliance of Allah O Akbar: A Journey Through Militant Islam (Phaidon 1994) that took my breath away. Its author, Abbas, has been described as one of the few photographers “who can raise photojournalism to an art form.” I met Abbas one rainy March afternoon in Magnum Photo’s Paris bureau. We spoke briefly; he was guarded and I was somewhat intimidated. I sipped black coffee while he questioned me, thinking that you’d have to be an armadillo to engage him in conversation–his dark piercing eyes, almost blinding if you are in his line of vision. Then in an instant, relief. He flashes a smile, and everything softens, a gentler Abbas appears. He cracks a joke, something about a journalist, a paparazzi, a tiger and a rat. I take in the humor, albeit dry and biting, but humor, nonetheless.

_I have to improve my tactics so that every villager is flattered at being photographed.

While Abbas is carefully scrutinizing images for his new book on Christianity, I am making notes for a possible interview at a later date. This proved not to be an easy task, with countless phone calls to Paris and London from New York. Laughing, he accused me of harassment. “Not at all,” I said, explaining that he was so illusive–moving quickly, ever so quickly. True, he was not an easy target, but then he was a master of that game having been trained so well in the killing fields of the third world. To Abbas, there is no time to waste. He is as fleeting as the images he seeks to document. I asked him, “Who is Abbas, really?” To which he replied, modestly, “Just a photographer.” Too simple an answer for me. No, he’s not just a photographer. He is a journalist who has covered major political and social events–Biafra, Bangladesh, Vietnam, South Africa, The Middle East. A journalist who, in 1987, made an ambitious study–a seven year project photographing the resurgence of Islam throughout the world with some of the most chilling and haunting essays ever recorded and captured in Iran: La Revolution Confisquee (Editions Cletrat 1980) and Return To Mexico-Journey’s Beyond the Mask (Norton, 1992), photographs of the same intensity and consistency. Images that dare to speak to us of outrage and courage. Images of fear, of war, of burdens so heavy they are almost unbearable to look at. A journalist who wears sensible shoes, who plays the game–moving and shooting his subjects with such fervor that at the end of the day, there is nothing left but to succumb to exhaustion.

_My relationship with God is purely professional.

That is the brilliance of Abbas. He is a man of contradictions who cites Rembrandt as a mentor, walks the paths of great novelists and chronicles his photographs with pages and pages of poetic script so compelling they breath a life of their own.

Renay Morris: You are revered by your colleagues, to some you are considered a hero. Who is Abbas and do you believe in heroes?

Abbas: (Laughing.)  I am simply a photographer. C’est tout. Be careful, heroes are something else. I can’t talk about heroes, but I can talk about the people that influenced me as a photographer. Rembrandt. I learned a lot from Rembrandt. And from Velazquez.

RM: From painters more so than photographers?

Abbas: Oh yes, much more. I was visiting a museum in Amsterdam, and room after room I saw portraits of the bourgeois–the well-to-do people of Amsterdam by Rembrandt and other painters as well. I was struck by how Rembrandt did not just freeze his characters like other painters, he suspended them. Freezing means you stop them in their action. They are literally posing. Suspending means that after you have photographed or painted your subjects they keep on doing what they were doing before. When I started in 1970 I realized that this was exactly what I was doing­ or what I was trying to do–not to freeze people in my photos, but to suspend them. What I learned from Velazquez was his amazing composition, his sense of proportion and the way he uses light.

RM: Your subject matter is very dark–a mass of darkness. No smiles, it’s all very macabre.

Abbas: You are asking me to explain my work. It is hard for a photographer to critique his own work. It is for critics to tell me what is there. Perhaps this intensity has something do with my background as an Iranian. I am, of course, the product of my culture–my education, my past. I left Iran as a small boy, but I went back for the revolution which I covered for two years. This was a very intense time because I was not only a photographer, but I was an involved photographer. You see, when I go to Zaire or I go to Vietnam or Cuba, I am concerned, but not involved. Iran was my country, my people, and my revolution–in the beginning at least. Therefore, photography wasn’t just recording other people’s lives, it was also recording my own life or my own wishes.

_When I am working I am not in a normal state, I am in a state of grace.

RM: The little Mexican boy before his funeral…the prostitute’s cadaver…you’re tough. Photo after photo of death and violence and suffering. In Allah o Akbar you start out with death and you end with death. You write: “Will violence always hold a fascination for me.”

Abbas: I’m glad you mentioned that. Death is part of life. Perhaps, because of my background and the life I led in Iran and Mexico, there is all sorts of reasons I have this fascination with death and violence. Death is eternity. Violence is life. In 1997, after 17 years I went back to Iran. I remember a time when I was literally in the middle of this crowd of Iranians celebrating the martyrdom of Hassan and Hussein–the prophet’s grandsons. They were beating their chests and singing at the same time–the songs of mourning. Suddenly, I was taken by the whole mood of the situation. I was no longer an observer. Whether I liked it or not, it was part of my culture and I became acutely aware of the fact that I was heir to 3,000 years of this culture-a culture with violent rituals.

RM: And the religious imagery that appears in the majority of your work…

Abbas: My relationship with God is purely professional. After photographing all these years I don’t understand why people believe, so I am still fascinated by religion.

RM: And the contractions. The surprise element, a non-violent Abbas photo or phrase…like when you refer to the beauty of the flowers and the Rose of Kabul.

Abbas: Every man is a contradiction. I hope you are a contradiction yourself. Again, this all so subjective. When I look at my contact sheets I see contractions I don’t see when I am shooting, because shooting is very intuitive and editing is intellectual. There are many levels of contractions; like the two women on the beach in Morocco–one in a bikini , one covered in traditional dress. That is a simple one. There are other levels of contractions and complexity. I seek that. I think that photography is not just recording an event. For me it is also interpreting an event and giving you feeling about this event.

RM: You write: “One of the best way to get to know a country or a place is always through its novelists.”

Abbas: That’s true. That’s what I normally do when I am travelling. I read the heavy stuff beforehand; the sociology, the economics, the politics. Then I find English or French books by the prominent writers of that particular country I am exploring. They guide me. Actually, very much so, because maybe in a way this is what I’m trying to do as a photographer. Photography means writing with light. That is exactly what I do–write with light. Like a someone who uses the written word to capture a subject, I don’t only work on a subject, I work around a subject…beyond the subject. Working four years on Christianity and seven years on Islam and three years on Mexico–this is not the normal lifestyle of a photojournalist. It’s more like that of the writer. Also, I always keep a diary and parts of this diary go with my pictures in my books. I try not to write about my photographs, but write about the environment in which I took the photographs.

_Iran was my country, my people, and my revolution–at the beginning at least. Therefore, photography wasn’t just recording other people’s lives, it was also recording my own life or my own wishes.

RM: The Hadj–the pilgrimage to Mecca. How difficult was that to photograph?

Abbas: It took me five years and one war to actually get the visa. The Saudis did not make the life of the photographer easy, but I managed to get the photos I wanted. I had to go there three times. Each time I was not happy with the situation so I kept going until I got what I wanted. I am as demanding of myself as I am of others. RM: So much so that you may resort to trickery to get your pictures. In Return to Mexico, I quote you: “I have to improve my tactics so that every villager is flattered at being photographed.” Do subjects need to be seduced?

Abbas: When a photographer goes to a situation like in this Mexican village, he is not innocent. He carries a whole other culture on his back. Whether he likes it or not he represents the Western world–the gringo. Although I’m not American to their eyes I was a gringo journalist. So there was no reason for them to be kind to me. I had to seduce them with a lot of polaroids at the beginning. I took their pictures and gave the photos to them. I sort of became the official photographer of the village. After a while they started asking me to photograph their festivals and give them prints It was not easy, it was very confrontational.

RM: How do you handle criticism?

Abbas: Well, there is not enough of it.

RM: Not enough of it?

Abbas: That’s right I wish I would get more.

RM: Tell me about the Christianity book­–your new project. What compelled you to do it?

Abbas: It is set for a publication release in the Spring of 2000. I just finished shooting the photography and I am now in the process of editing the work. I’ve done the basic work in my head. It’s just a question of putting it to form. I started Islam because it was, in a way, natural for me to do it. After following the revolution of Iran, it was normal for me to not only look at the revolution but also the ways this revolution was affecting the world. When I was finishing my project on Islam, I was thinking about what I was going to do next. I decided to stay with God, but then just change prophets. Because, when you look at Christianity or religion in general, it is a just a way to look into our societies. Religion is just the pretext. Religion is just not faith, it is culture, it is economy…it is many things. I hope to make it similar to the book on Islam.

RM: Your books are always in black and white. How do you feel about the use of color.

Abbas: My expression is in black and white for a very simple reason. Because I see in black and white. When I am working I am not in a normal state, I am in a state of grace. I automatically convert yellows greens and browns into shades of grey blacks and white. But I have to cover the color stories wanted by international magazines. It is not easy to accept the assignments and remain master of my time.

RM: How has your work changed over the years. Abbas: I’m the same photographer, but with more maturity now. Your asking me to judge my photography again?

RM: Yes I am.

Abbas: The difference is I know exactly what I want now. When you start out, it is normal to experiment. But after 30 years I am not experimenting that much. I don’t like to shift different styles or different interests. My work is pretty consistent. My signature, my style is recognizable.

RM: I understand you have an up-coming exhibition.

Abbas: Yes, I am having an exhibition in Brussels. This is my first one. I was supposed to have an exhibition before on the book on Islam. But, because of the whole controversy and sensitive nature of the work, people were afraid to show my work on wars. The exhibit is from April 22 – June 22 at the Chapel of Charles The Fifth. Can you imagine that…an exhibition on Islam in a Chapel?

RM: Is that another contradiction? So, at the end of the day, do you think that it might be said that you persist until you prevail? A serious pause ensues.

Abbas: Perhaps, because I never take no for an answer. My personal life may be different, but when I am working I never take no for an answer.

RM: Well I did not take no for an answer either, and that is why I got this interview. I hope you don’t think I was harassing you–I hope you were joking. Any words of wisdom for those starting out.

Abbas: Just what I told you. Don’t take no for answer. And a secondary piece of advice, get a pair of good walking shoes–a very good pair.

For further reading  and information_ Magnum Photos at www.magnumphotos.com


_the photography show. AIPAD 2018

© Nobuyoshi Araki Dead Reality & Courtesy Little Big Man Gallery, Los Angeles

Although the weather outside was troubling, inside_ The Pier at 94th in New York City lit up any dreary notions with its presentation of  THE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW PRESENTED BY AIPAD. (05-08 April 2018.) For the 2nd year at its new home, dockside the Hudson River, the 38th edition of the highly selective photographic expo once again proved to be a mecca for a worldwide audience of photo enthusiasts. AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers) presented a brilliant range of museum-quality work, including the genres of contemporary, modern, and 19th-century photographs, as well as photo-based art, video, and new media. The venue was complete with 96 of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries, over 30 book sellers, 15 AIPAD talks, three special exhibitions as well as host of engaging events. It is the longest-running and foremost exhibition dedicated to the photographic medium.

I would be remiss if I did not give an overview/highlights, as those not familiar will note that compliment to the rows of gallery spaces, a myriad of events spanned the fete, catching the eyes of curators, photo pros and amateurs alike, as well as a bevy of photo enthusiasts who find the art of the medium irresistible. It was an opportunity to participate in an appetizing array of forums/lectures curated by a coveted team of experts.

While visitors circulated_ making the rounds in an easy flow and welcomed by the suitably arranged lounge areas affording snacks,drinks and conversation, AIPAD introduced twelve new galleries_ 6×7 Gallery Warsaw; galerie SIT DOWN, Paris; In The Gallery, Copenhagen; Jean-Kenta Gauthier, Paris; MEM, Tokyo; Paul Nicklen Gallery, New York; Sears-Peyton Gallery, New York; Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York; The Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite National Park, CA; Three Shadows +3 Gallery, Beijing; Todd Webb Archive, Portland, ME; and Toluca Fine Art, Paris.

Among the planned activities were Solo Exhibitions/Themed Exhibitions, Performance/Politics, Visual commentaries on Social Issues and Resistance, as well Rare and Abstract Works. Three Special Exhibitions_

>A Time for Reflection, curated by Sir Elton John, with work selected from AIPAD member galleries and available for purchase, with a portion of sales to benefit The Sir Elton John Charitable Trust.

>Forever Young: Selections from the Joe Baio Collection of Photography, on childhood and adolescence, was on exhibit publicly for the first time.

>All Power: Visual Legacies of the Black Panther Party, curated by Michelle Dunn Marsh, Executive Director and Curator at the Photographic Center Northwest, showcases contemporary black artists who have been informed or influenced by the Black Panther movement.

And to note:

>The Staley-Wise Gallery of New York, featured famous rockers, including a 1974 photograph of John Lennon and Mick Jagger, a 1964 photograph of the Beatles reading their fan mail, and from that same year a portrait of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez with a sign that says, “Protest Against the Rising Tide of Conformity.”

>A solo exhibition at the Etherton Gallery, Tucson, was W. Eugene Smith at 100. This work is from the archive of Takeshi Ishikawa, who was Smith’s assistant for three years during the photographer’s time in Minamata, Japan. Some of the images of Smith at work in Minamata have never been shown outside Japan.

>I was struck by JHB Gallery’s amazing image “Crush & Pull” which I would learn was created by artist Ellen Carey. Her masterful use of the photographic medium combines Polaroid negatives and photograms_ a photographic print made by laying objects onto photographic paper and exposing it to light.

© Ellen Carey, “Crush & Pull”, 2018 & Courtesy JHB Gallery, New York

© Renay Elle Morris_ renayellemorris.com

Portrait Studies was crowdpleaser_including those by Sally Mann, Ethiopian artist Aida Muluneh, as well as two_ of Winston Churchill and of Ernest Hemingway by Yousuf Karsh. And, Lynn Gilbert whose photography of iconic women including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Billie Jean King, Louise Nevelson, Gloria Steinem, Susan Sontag, created a “time capsule” of the American feminist landscapes. Travel, always a draw included the reflective imagery of Roblert McCabe’s work, on view at galerie SIT DOWN, Paris, which spoke visually of the ancient world as well as 1950s Greece_ bucolic in nature.

Of special interest:

>AIPAD TALKS_ commentary by the most prominent of the art community. The agenda was complete with “Photography Talking Back”_ which addressed current issues and events.

>The second edition of the AIPAD Screening Room_ documentaries on photographers curated by award-winning filmmaker Mary Engel, Director, Orkin/Engel Film & Photo Archive.

>And, a ceremonial praise for Keith F. Davis, Senior Curator of Photography, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, this year’s recipient of The AIPAD Award which honors visionaries who have contributed to the field of photography.


© Jacob Giles “Santa Monica #1” & Courtesy INTHEGALLERY,Copenhagen, DK

© Edward Burtynsky “Shipyard #11” & Courtesy Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco

_variations on a theme / highlights of the 2017-18 mdina cathedral art biennale

© renay elle morris_ mdina, malta 2017

In the afterglow of the visual conversation “The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualities”_ the 2017-18 APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale held in the country of Malta, I am delighted to showcase a selection of interpretive works authored by an international network of artists and curated by a talented team, guided by artistic director Dr.Giuseppe Schembri-Bonaci and Nikki Petroni. It was a global triumph_ a narrative explored with diverse translations, creating a visual display in various mediums_ painting, sculpture, photography, and multimedia platforms_ artistic voices heard through the most personal of presentations.

In this 2nd edition, at the impressive the Mdina Cathedral Museum, over 30 works were presented throughout the treasury. The interplay of the works, installed on different landings, led the viewer on a spiritual traverse_ and to the cavernous underground passageway leveled below_ an ethereal space in itself.

With an invitation to participate, I delight in the bonds of friendship that were made through this distinctive and highly creative opportunity. Thus, I am proud to share this journey, and thank all the wonderful artists, academics, clergy and business entities, as well as visitors that have made this not only an exhibition, but a forum for its timely theme of conflicting spiritualities, an important one.


The Artists_ The Works

Savina Capecci (in art Savina Kapecci)_ lives in Pordenone Italy, and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where she received her B.A. in Painting in 2014 and her Master Degree in 2016 with full marks. She worked as assistant to the professors in the classes of painting at the Free Academy of Fine Arts in Klagenfurt, Austria as well as participating in selected exhibitions including:

  • Premio Arte Cairo Mondadori Finalists exhibition, Palazzo Reale and Palazzo della Permanente, Milan
  • Transgenic Attack, Atelier der Stadt Klagenfurt, Austria solo exhibition
  • BV Sommerausstellung, BV Galerie, Klagenfurt, Austria
  • Memento Andy, Atelier 3+10, Venice
  • Fuori Uso, Avviso di garanzia, Ex Tribunal, Pescara
  • Premio Lilian Caraian, Museum of Modern Art Revoltella, Trieste
  • Incident III – Accident Czestochowa Museum, Poland

Capecci has received several art awards with her work included in a variety of publications.

The works presented at the Mdina Biennale are titled “The PromiSSed land”. The painted images depict the human aspect of the current immigration crisis happening in the Mediterranean sea, and are expressive of the essence of the concept of “waiting” in all its forms and feelings that arise while sitting in a boat. The Promised land inevitably becomes a “pro-missed” land.

www.savinakapecci.com / savina_capecci@libero.it  / savinakapecci@gmail.com

Courtesy of the artist_ The PromiSSed land


James Alec Hardy_ born – 1979 in Colchester, England. The essence of James Alec Hardy’s practice is a process concerned with the impact of technologies on our experience of life. Since 2002, he has focused on analogue video systems, manifesting ideas through performance, sculpture, installation and print. By using obsolete devices from a former analogue age to reproduce digital functions, Hardy’s practice is challenging and engaging_ranging from building sculptural totems of video monitors, to 3 month long shamanic residencies in fields with I-Cabin, to 3 day long noise and feedback performances at The Tate Modern.

“With the truth being understood as subjective, the video sculptures I create do not limit freedom of thought, but stimulate choice. I aim to avoid manipulating the viewer by presenting ‘video as truth’, my work allows the video to function ultimately as the meditative stage for the mind, which unravels its own truth.”

1999-2002: Camberwell College of Arts, London
Present: Warrior Studios, London                                                                                                                         Represented by Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery London

instagram @jamesalechardy / www.sitbackandrelapse.com

Courtesy of the artist_“171111”


Robert Stokowy_ is a sound artist, composer and artistic researcher from Cologne, Germany. His work entails experimental compositions, text based interventions, audiovisual performances and installations. All projects are framed by an overarching artistic research process, focussing on topics of instability, sensory balance, as well as qualitative characteristics and potentiality of sound and place. Stokowy’s site-specific Sound Installations are based on phenomenological practices and consist of small sounds which hold very haptic and organic qualities. With his works the artist wants to explore the potentiality of his sonic surroundings and give recipients access to experience new perspectives on their environment.

Since Stokowy’s work is first and foremost based on sound, a recording of the installation is available on his website.

Instagram: robertstokowy / www.robert-stokowy.de

Courtesy of the artist_ structures [mdina]  


Anthony Catania_ is a visual artist specializing in myths and fables. Often on the threshold of grotesque figurative painting, his style attempts to capture subversively idiosyncratic portraits of legendary beings embedded in bizarrely anachronistic settings. His personal exhibitions; Selve OscureThe Cave of CentaursThe Piper’s RequiemSpectre-Bark and Last Light, were held at the Malta Museum of Fine Arts, the Malta Maritime Museum and Heritage Malta. Catania is a PhD candidate at the University of Malta, where he also received his MFA in Digital Arts with a distinction. Catania also worked as a concept designer for indie games, poster designer for theatre productions and illustrator of academic book covers. He currently lectures on illustration, primitivism and sequential art at the University of Malta.

Wilting Annunciation depicts the typical scene where the angel Gabriel announces the birth of Christ and incarnation of God. The announcement is that of Christ’s passion endured for humanity’s redemption from the agony in the garden of Gethsemane until His death on Calvary. It also depicts the passion of a Mater Dolorosa who will cradle the corpse of her son through fertile/dead sunflower seeds. Death and life are depicted in an oxymoronic manner.


Courtesy of the artist_ Wilting Annunciation


Gor Chahal_ was born in Moscow in 1961 and is one of the most highly accomplished contemporary artists. His creative method synthesizes a scholastic approach with the elements of a ritual. Chahal is of a type rarely found in the Russian artistic community: a «universal master», with a diploma in science and applied mathematics, from the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute, a contributor to numerous creative experiments undertaken in cooperation with groups of poets, musicians, and artists of Soviet-era Underground. But while the style of Chahal’s creations lie within the parameters of Actual Art, yet in substance they are at the other end of the spectrum. His themes often encompass faith and show a deep awareness that true art simply cannot exist without connection to tradition of the sacred, Christianity in this case.


Courtesy of the artist_St. George strikes Cy Twombly, 2017


Michael von Cube_ Born – 1952, Cube lives and works in Munich, Lower-Bavaria and Malta.

The reality of the political situation in the Mediterranean surpasses the image of brutality by far, and so the picture remains what it should be and is – a helpless plea: art.

When Johann Wolfgang von Goethe set off on his travels to Italy, the Age of Enlightenment was of great significance in Europe. The education system and lifestyle of the ancient world was seen as the model for a civil society. Committed to ‚Goodness, Truth and Beauty‘ (Winckelmann), artists and romantics from all walks of like were drawn to the cradle of European culture: The Mediterranean. The painter Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein created the famous portrait of the German writer entitled „Goethe in the Roman Campagna“.

‘Europium‘ takes an ironic look at this idealistic approach or what is indeed left of it today: The princess of peace and her system of values surrounded by lemons symbolising a united Europe. It refers to the vision of the writer, Goethe, just like peace-game‘ does to the abolition of violence and war.


Courtesy of the artist_Europium


Guy Ferrer_ is French, of Catalan and Italian descent. Over the past thirty years he has developed an international reputation as a painter and sculptor, with exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. In addition to painting and sculpture his work also encompasses writing and architecture. Ferrer has worked in Paris, Los Angeles and other international cities, including New York, Caracas, Lima, Beijing and Johannesburg where he has created temporary studios. In 2012, the establishment of his studio in French Catalonia marked his return to the Mediterranean.

Recent honours include a monumental bronze sculpture for the French embassy in Singapore and a large fresco for the French embassy in Bakou (Azerbaijan). The OECD commissioned and permanently displays a large triptych by Ferrer entitled Liberté-Egalité-Fraternité.

“T.O.L.E.R.A.N.C.E”, a major sculptural work created in 2007 in response to contemporary religious tensions, has been widely acclaimed and displayed in France, Germany, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.

Ferrer’s work is represented in private and corporate collections around the world. He has developed artistic partnerships with several companies including Lefranc & Bourgeois, Champagne Jacquart and Le Bon Marché in Paris where Ferrer’s monumental bronze, La Pourvoyeuse, is a permanent installation.

Atelier Guy Ferrer – France

Courtesy of the artist_ Les Vigilants, 2007


Zita Vilutyte_ (Lithuania) is a painter, musician, and composer, as well as founder and artistic director of the Holistic Theatre of Movement “S”. In addition, she is a neuropsychoeducator, lecturer, curator and journalist. From 2013-2016, Vilutyte was Director of the International Art project ANIMA MUNDI, and as of 2016, President of the association.

Her career includes over 40 personal exhibitions as well as joint creative projects in various countries, including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, India, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Croatia, Germany, Georgia, England and Macedonia. In 2011 she received a bronze award in Art from the Five Golden Stars Gallery, Netherlands.

Other activities and participations, include:

  • The release of 17 solo music albums
  • Music Composition for film and theatre
  • Musical and visual projects in coordination with the music group “VARTAI”
  • The production of 4 music CD’s in a  joint musical project with Lithuanian musicians.
  • Membership in the Ambient Music Association’s “Ambient Music Garden” (U.K.)


Courtesy of the artist_ Exist, No Exit 


Ana Caterina Pereira_ believes that materials determine the way humanity operates and her work is centred on their composition and behaviour. She is also interested on the impact their existence have in our society, in particular architecture, politics and gender roles. Steel is Pereira’s material of choice – its chemical properties and reactions determine the subject of the work. She combines this metal with other materials in order to activate or counteract their intrinsic properties.

Pereira completed her Masters at Chelsea College of Arts in 2012, being awarded with Clifford Chance Prize the following year. In 2014, Pereira received the Royal British Society of Sculptors Bursary. The work shown at Mdina Biennal in 2015 represents the beginning of a new body of work that explored the rigidity that characterises steel.

Pereira’s work was selected for several listings and shown in a variety of occasions, including the Aesthetic Art Prize (2014), Signature Art Prize (2015), Anthology (2016) and First@108 (2017). This last experience opened her the desire to work outdoors, which was realised with “Now outside the doors of strange houses”. Based on the study of steel’s atomic structure, this sculpture is on show at Broomhill Sculpture Park till May 2018.

anapereira@mail.com / www.anacatarinapereira.com

Courtesy of the artist_“not afraid of hot summer, nor of the frozen winter”


Genia Chef_ was born in Kazakstan, in the former Soviet Union where his father, a photographer, had been banished during Stalin’s regime. Chef grew up in Moscow and studied graphic arts at the Polygraphic Institute receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree. He was awarded with the First Prize for his diploma (1977).  After relocating to West Germany in 1985, he studied painting at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and was honoured with the Fueger Gold Prize (1993). He resides in Berlin.

Genia Chef is an author of theoretical works, including his “Manifesto of Post-Historicism”, and “Viva Canova”.  Chef has participated in numerous museum exhibitions worldwide, including the F. Weisman Art Museum, Minnesota, Museum of Modern Art, Ostende, Belgium, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany, Palazzo Forti, Verona, Italy, State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, Yeshiva Univ. Museum, New York, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, Australia, II Moscow Biennale, CUA Museum of the University of Colorado, Boulder, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, 55th and 56th Venice Biennale, Mdina Cathedral Biennale, Malta.

geniachef@gmx.de / www.geniachef.de

Courtesy of the artist_ Red Square


Lena Lapschina_ graduated from State Stroganow University of Fine and Applied Arts in Moscow. She lives and works in Vienna and Lower Austria. Lapschina has won the Austrian State Grant for Video and Media Art and was awarded several prestigious residencies, including the Djerassi Residence Artists Program (Woodside, California), KuS (Heerlen, Netherlands), ORTung (Strobl, Austria), and Nordens Hus (Reykjavík, Iceland).

In Lapschina’s three-channel video installation “Runtime”, a character is moving with great haste. It does so for minutes, for hours, for days. There’s no aim in sight, not even a fata morgana. Synchronously a timepiece slowly but surely is wandering across the scene. While at first glance the character seems to be driven by customary stress and inner conflicts, it turns out that the piece is tackling the more sensitive issues of modern societies. If the attire of the character is any indication, it’s about civilization at large, which in the eyes of many people is at stake these days. Maybe the artist wants to remind us of two facts: 1. People on this planet have been running along the surface of the earth’s crust in search for paradise for ages. 2. It’s the Mediterranean, which once again is the arena of the world’s greatest conflicts.


Courtesy of the artist_ Runtime / site-specific three-channel video installation with sound; dimensions variable. 2017


Aleko Lomadze_ is a Georgian artist whose work is iconographic in nature. His icons are housed in different temples in Georgia – Tbilisi, Ozurgeti, Choxatauri, and Xobi, as well as Vienna, Austria in the Holy Mother Temple. For nearly 15 years he has worked and noted for his work with draw milled stones, which is quite a time-consuming process. He collects the stones from all parts of Georgia with the assistance of associates. In addition to other mediums, he uses marble rug_ known for its radiance, and its use in painting.

Lomadze participates in different art projects, exhibitions, festivals, art seminars and workshops in Georgia and other countries including Lithuania, Latvia and Portugal. Many of his works are in private collections and public institutions throughout Georgia and abroad. With the blessing of the Georgian Patriarchate several works are kept in the Patriarchate.

In 2015 he joined the ANIMA MUNDI project.


Courtesy of the artist_ Abstract 2


Nicola Arkell Reed_ is an artist and lecturer, with a BA and MA in Fine Art from Central St. Martins. Reed exhibited in the Cathedral Crypt at the Mdina Biennale in 2016 and prior to that had a solo show at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Mayfair, London. She won National Geographic Magazine’s photography competition and was published in their October 2016 issue. In addition, she has illustrated two published novels: Fox by Anthony Gardner and Tittle Tattle by Bill Keeling and has tutored Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and the University of Gloucestershire as well as run drawing workshops at the University of Malta, Chelsea College of Art and The Idler Magazine.

Nicola Reed uses the medium of photography, film and printmaking in her work. For many years, and as a mother of six children, her work was focused on, and explored Mother Daughter Dynamics, using herself and her three daughters as the subjects for a body of work. As a supporter of the charity EthiopiAid, and visiting and photographing the people of Ethiopia since the late 1980s, Reed produced a series of photographic portraits focused on the dissipating tribes and cultures in Ethiopia with the  intention to celebrate the individuality, unique style and personality that is so pertinent to the people of the Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia. Her current project is inspired by her passion for bee-keeping and protecting bees from the current and serious threat to their existence. More examples of Nicola’s work can be found on her website. 


Courtesy of the artist_The in between


Merna Liddawi_ is an award winning British-Jordanian artist living in the UK. She is on a mission to capture the beauty of spiritual moments in our lives and deepen our connection with the Divine. Her unique technique of using traditional methods handed down from artisans, which she developed over many years, has caught the attention of art collectors, curators and art historians. Others have spoken of her work as “having an unexpected calming effect”.

After completing a science degree in Cairo, Liddawi moved to the UK where she taught Math for many years. She gained a BA in Fine Art and was awarded an MFA with distinction from West Dean College.

Liddawi’s work has been shown in several group exhibitions in London and had her solo show ‘Revelation’ at Asia House. She has exhibited internationally _ Venice and Portugal, and been selected for the Florence Biennale, Mdina Biennale in Malta as well as Artrooms London and Rome.  She won the 2ndArtGemini Prize in Painting and Sculpture, and has been awarded the “Lorenzo il Magnifico” painting award in Florence. Liddawi is featured in several publications and has been nominated for the Edward James Foundation trustees award. Her paintings are housed in private collections in the Middle East, Europe, the USA and UK.

www.mernaliddawi.com / info@mernaliddawi.com

Courtesy of the artist_ Uncreated Light


Aina Putnina_ born – 1962, graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia in 1992, and the Baltic International Academy in 2011 in Riga, Latvia. Since 1994 Putnina has participated in exhibitions, workshops, plain airs and other projects in Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Georgia. Putnina has been  employed at the Art School for children and adults teaching painting and computer graphics since 1993.

Putnina’s creative interest are painting and digital graphic media, and uses expressive abstract and landscape elements, as well as ornaments for the emotional narrative of composition while combines traditional painting with technology applications and is noted for her expressive use of color and tonal contrasts. Her  works are characterized as emotionally expressive_telling stories with the use of colors, lines and shapes. Putnina notes that the simple geometric shapes and forms are messages from long time ago, and they are the witnesses of our creation and abstract thinking processes. Her work is an interpretation of nature_ forms around us and are an expression everyday life.


Courtesy of the artist_ River and Rain


Renay Elle Morris_a career in brief.

(USA – BFA_Graphic Design / Photography) Renay E. Morris is an internationally recognized writer, award-winning graphic designer and photographer. Pursing her education, she received her degree from the prestigious Krannert School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois, with further studies at New York University and the Parsons School of Design. Throughout her career as a creative director, she incorporates the use of design and photography for the development of media programs for private and public organizations which have included; Universal Pictures, Sony Music/CBS Records, CBS Publications, and TDS Time Warner. With CorporateIDeasWorldwide, and renayellemorris.com, she maintains a platform for visual communications for a global clientele.

As a journalist and member of the US and overseas press community, Morris was the international news editor for Picture magazine_a nominee for the coveted “Lucie” award. In addition to various publications, and as of 2016, she is the editor_ photographic & fine art development/content of the online artist resource/gallery_ arstler.com.

Currently, her primary direction is fine art photography presented in large-scale format. Morris participates in gallery exhibitions in the United States and abroad with representation. She resides in Manhattan, New York.


rem@renayellemorris.com  / www.renayellemorris.com


Courtesy of the artist_ Lo Smarrito / The Lost


Maria Kaleta_ as an artist, one always searches for meaning and morals that can be conveyed in their creations. For Maria, these lessons range from a whole host of different topics. She explores, for example, how, in an ever increasingly technological world, we can often lose sight of our identities. In turn, we observe how everything seems to revolve around the media and the trials of character that come with this, us now having to learn the difference between what can be useful and what can be dangerous, whether our sources of information can be trusted.

Having lived in London for well over a decade, Maria is also able to use this cultural hub as a rich source of inspiration for many of her works. Transposing the communities she observes there onto canvas or computer, Maria journeys through what it means to live in a multicultural society and all the highs and lows that come with it, living surrounded by vibrant peoples from a variety of origins.

With this in mind, she continues to investigate how persons can be drowned out by the sound of the city, what it means to lose your voice in the crowd and the effects this can have on your self.

With years of experience already behind her, the necessity for a togetherness between peoples seems a clear solution to some of such problems that Maria raises in her work. Art, however, cannot only be interpreted in one way or be deemed understood with but one solution. Instead, Maria’s work allows for many morals and meanings to be open for the onlooker, with significance for many years to come.

www.mariakaleta.com /mariakaleta@gmail.com

Courtesy of the artist_ Silence, 2017 

_lee friedlander at work / a slice of americana in bologna

New York, NY – January 2018  /  Fondazione Del Monte – Palazzo Paltroni / Bologna Italy
















Looking back on 2017, I was fortunate to engage in several photographic presentations that offered specific themes, albeit quite different. In particular, with an invitation to participate in the prestigious 2017-18 Mdina Cathedral Art Biennale in Malta’s The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualities, as an exhibiting photographer and the only American to receive this honor, I navigated with both intention, and agenda working in tandem to add Bologna Italy to my itinerary. I boarded planes, trains, buses and such for the 3rd edition of Foto/Industria in association with MAST Fondazione’s BIENNIAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY ON INDUSTRY AND WORK. It was for me, a tasting _a mixture of art and cuisine, as Bologna is Italy’s capital of food. And, I wasn’t disappointed on both counts.

The Biennial (12 October-19 November) highlighted the work of 14 extraordinary image-makers at exhibitions located in galleries throughout a city shrouded by architecture of medieval beginnings. My arrival on 17 November afforded me an opportunity for a quick viewing. Having this very short window, I decided to limit my coverage to the images of Lee Friedlander. The Palazzo Paltroni, was the designated space to host his presentation of At Work.

For introductory purposes, one learns Friedlander is considered one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. American born (Aberdeen Washington (1934), his images detail America’s social landscape. They have been noted as “keen depictions” that include the worlds of jazz, television, urban landscapes and deserts. At Work, is a monograph dedicated to the urban life of largely the anonymous worker photographed over a 16 year period beginning in 1979. It is a commissioned work offering a cultural fabric woven with images of factories and offices, as well as tools, work practices, and relationships in professional settings. Shot in black and white with the use of a 35mm Leica, the work defined an era. “Friedlander has acknowledged the largely anonymous worker, making inventive pictures of the familiar, humdrum, yet overriding role of work in America.” Throughout the course of this assignment, Friedlander maintained his personal artistic freedom and integrity. True to his aesthetic, it is an outstanding selection of photographs that give homage to a place and time_ a brilliant documentation and archive of Middle America and its working class and social structure.



“Friedlander has acknowledged the largely anonymous worker, making inventive pictures of the familiar, humdrum, yet overriding role of work in America.” _ Fraenkel Gallery


What was of great fascination was the play between the view and the viewer. I buried myself between young students engaged in dialogue with professors, individuals from foreign lands, like me _ just enough to catch a few remarks in English and Italian. At various moments, noting the crowds, I thought of how different this all must seem _a retrospective of working class Americans in past decades, in black and white, before digital, before selfies. It was profound.



As a student, I was fortunate to have the experience to work only in black and white, capturing images with the use of 4×5, 2¼ and 35mm cameras_ bracketing exposures. And not to forget,  spending countless hours in darkrooms, adjusting enlargers, and submerging hands in developers and fixers. Now, when I stare at Friedlander’s work, I am reminded of how artfully we were trained. How precise we were with every shot. Kudos for MAST and Foto/Industria for its presentation of At Work which ultimately reminds us of this lost art.


Lee Friedlander is represented by Fraenkel Gallery – ­San Francisco, CA. USA

Image: #1 Renay Elle Morris / renayellemorris.com
Images: #2, 3, 4 / courtesy of Fraenkel Gallery + Foto/Industria + MAST





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_leonard freed: six stories

Steven Kasher Gallery_Leonard Freed: Six Stories / Renay Elle Morris_ September 2017

Hassidics of Brooklyn, 1954
Harlem, 1963
Black in White America, 1963-65
Israel, 1962 and 1967
Italy, 1956-58
Germany, 1961-66

As fellow Magnum photographer Cornell Capa expressed in The Concerned Photographer, “… he (Leonard Freed) was a photographer of ordinary people going about their every day lives – at home, at work, and in the streets. He has a keen eye for social hierarchies and, in part because of his working class origins; he felt great solidarity with outsiders, and the oppressed.”

No doubt, it was a bittersweet moment as I walked into the Steven Kasher Gallery, on that balmy evening_14 September. First sight was Leonard Freed’s wife and widow, Brigitte, surrounded by family and friends. Nestled by the door, she greeted guests with her warmth and charm as they arrived for the opening night of Leonard Freed: Six Stories. Holding court, she held in her heart the memory of her partner in life and work_ guardian of his galaxy.

© Brigitte Freed at the opening exhibition_Renay Elle Morris 

Leonard Freed was a wonder. His artistic and intellectual sensibilities drawn from a background in fine arts, and a desire to reveal and expose the struggles of civics and society was his raison d’être. It found its place with a merging of the two. His passion was revealed in photography, subscribing to ideals of Magnum Photos, and its co-founder, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s credo. “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”

Freed’s ability to capture “the art of the image” with such fierce reverence earned him respect worldwide as a leader in photojournalism_documenting a world of conflicting and misunderstood social norms_complete with a legacy of images that covers six decades of work. The Six Stories are a masterful display of that documentation. Reflected in the 75 vintage black and white images on exhibit is his innate sense of responsibility to bring a voice to politically and socially challenged individuals, along with a mission to change that dialogue.

This is the first exhibition that elucidates in depth Freed’s six earliest and most personal stories.” _The Steven Kasher Gallery

This series, on display until 21 October, offers a view into Freed’s world. From his personal challenge to  understand his Jewish roots by documentation of a Hassidic community_to the racially charged images in Black in White in America, the viewer gets to “go along for the ride”_ to bear witness to his ability to bring back to life stories of bygone eras_to preserve those decisive moments that will forever be embedded in our historical landscape.

© Leonard Freed, courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery


© Leonard Freed, courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery

And bittersweet? My first interview with a Magnum photographer was Leonard Freed. We became friends. In 2006, the year of his death, I spoke at his eulogy. Memories never to be forgotten. /R.

Leonard Freed: Six Stories
Steven Kasher Gallery
515 West 26th Street New York, NY 10001
For further info: contact Cassandra@stevenkashergallery.com

_paci contemporary gallery / porto cervo, italy

Ensconced in the northern coastal jet-setting playground of Porto Cervo, Sardinia, famous for its jeweled-toned sea, sits another gem portside_not to be overlooked.

 While the buoyant glitterati ready yachts and great sailing vessels for adventures in paradise_ toasting to the magnificence surrounding the Bai of Sardinia, and the curious gather for celebrity sightings along the The Costa Smeralda, the Promenade du Port aka The Costa Smeralda Hub_ lies several meters inland from the mighty seafaring crafts. Designed as a “luxury space where people can gather day or night”, it is complete with international art galleries, high-end retailers, bars and fine dining establishments, and an array of events_ all with first class offerings.

Paci Contemporary Gallery is among those glamorous offerings. Sitting pretty, shade side, the Paci Gallery sets its own course. Currently playing host to several photographic legends on both sides of the camera with an exhibition entitled “Moda and Cinema”, I was delighted to have the opportunity to view this collection of some of the most iconic women of the silver screen. The beauty was delivered_san aucun doute, not only detailing trends in fashion and makeup, but the posture, allure and enchantment of decades past, now preserved forever in archives, and brought back to life as the current vogue dictates. While the exhibition is well suited to it’s locale (Prince Aga Kahn’s creation) Paci’s presentation of the provocative and seductive is an engaging selection by the likes of such photographic luminaries as Douglas Kirkland, Bert Stern, William Klein, and Terry O’Neil, among others.

What is evident as you make your way around the gallery is how the photographers are aligned in the use of a “language”. To connect with their subject, the photographer must secure trust. The language is flirtation_ both visual and spoken, and very subtle, as it is the most important element in this photographic process. As an example, and most notably, Bert Stern has captured his star_ Marilyn, allowing the viewer to access the defining moment where intimacy is captured. And the result from Stern is clear in the outcome_ Monroe’s vulnerability. With vulnerability revealed, the intention is a success.

You can still catch the works, as they are on display until 30 September.

For additional information on upcoming exhibitions visit:
info@pacicontemporarygallery.com / pacicontemporary.com
Promenade du Port_Via Aga Khan1 Porto Cervo, Italy

Image, courtesy of Paci Contemporary Gallery_Porto Cervo / 2017


_the cherkashin’s. new work. a new chapter. / june 2017

For decades, Valera and Natasha Cherkashin have added layer upon layer of philosophical and political ideology to their masterful works of photographic genius. With exhibitions, lectures and talks on an international stage, the art of their images have recently been compiled into a 254 page publication entitled, Actions, Happenings and art performances 1962 – 2016 _ Night with a Pioneer Leader, which delves into a history of 2 artists_a husband and wife team, and the legacy of their talent. What inspires them may not offer an easy answer. Perhaps it is a fearless energy to defend beliefs, or a lifetime of a Soviet regime. Perhaps it was Perestroika, the political movement and the “openness”policy that led to the reforms of the Soviet political and economic system during the1980s that allowed for such ambitious work.

2017, and we turn to NEW DRAWINGS_a new series. Compelling, simplified lines detail this new work. Like a fingerprint, no two are alike. Yet, they engage you and hypnotize you. Why now, and why this direction? This mystifies me. These works are “anti-chaos”_ far from anything we have seen from them before. I am reminded of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. In my minds eye, I see the face, but above all, it is his wavy lines of color drawn on paper that grips me. Is this, the Cherkashin’s return to the pleasures of life drawing, sketchbooks, student impressions before the intrigue of cameras and film came into play? In conversation with Valera, he explained that he intuitively went to the origins of his drawing, before professional training, with the desire to catch that primary element, a thrilling feeling of a simple touch to the paper. It was joy from a simple touch and moving a pencil over a piece of paper, while anticipating the source of something important and mysterious. The beginning of something infinite and desirable, but still completely unknown.

Lines provide the foundation to every form of art. It reveals forms, displays length, width, tone, and texture. My consideration is that the Cherkashin’s intention in these drawings is to remove oneself from the chaos of modern times and find solace in simplicity. In addition, as line itself denotes direction, it is fair to state these lines are visual directions which may be seen as a metaphor for contemplation on the orientation of one’s life_ a course that is extremely personal to an artist as well as each and every viewer.

The work is powerful and profound.


“Untitled 1” / “Untitled 5”



“Untitled 8” / “Untitled 10”



“Untitled 24” / “Untitled 23”




Contact information /  website www.cherkashinart.com / email cherkashin@metro33.com

Actions, Happenings and art performances 1962 – 2016 _ Night with a Pioneer Leader  Natasha & Valera Cherkashin

Book information: www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/6568799/884c0a46741dc84b45aea55e107d90c7e536b63c

Thomas J. Watson Library / The Metropolitan Museum of Art _New York, NY USA
Available in Russian. Coming soon_English Language Edition.