Now open at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source is Desert, which I understand is the first exhibition by artist Lalbu. Unfortunately, as Dixmix maintains the habit of not providing bylines on the artists who display at the gallery (marking DiXmiX Gallery as one of the few that doesn’t), I have no idea who Lalbu is, nor can I tell you any more about them.
In fairness, the lack of further information might be because that is how the artist would prefer things – but without any outline commentary supplied by the gallery, it’s hard to know.
That said, from an art appreciation standpoint, a lack of background information doesn’t prevent one from recognising this series of images for what it is: a remarkable set of studies offering a glimpse of life in the sub-Saharan / Sahel region of Africa. Each image is focused on a single figure, dressed in what might be regarded as “traditional” desert garb. Female and male, these are intense studies, an entire story written into each one of them.
Such is the emotional depth of each piece, coupled with pose, framing and tone, we don’t need the accoutrements of daily life to recognise these people and the lives they live in what is one of the hardest regions in the world to live on a daily basis. Every single picture speaks volumes in the most marvellous way. Looking at them, it is impossible not to be drawn into the tales that have to tell.
Take Desert #12 as an example. A close-up profile of a man standing at what might be the entrance to his tent. There is an intensity in his eyes that speaks volumes: intelligence, determination – love; emotions reflected in the soft turn of his lips. But there is more to the image as well: notice the slight scar under his left eye that has a story of its own to tell. Each picture in this collection has a similar depth and layering of story to tell.
As a total aside, I’ll also confess to being drawn to Desert #12 for another reason: the question of who may have been the model / inspiration for the piece. Was this an avatar study post-processed to resemble a painting or is it – as I lean towards – and original piece of art; and if indeed the latter, might the actor Michael Dorn served as inspiration for the piece, because the profile resemble is uncanny.
And this is why it really would be nice to know more about Lalbu – because the truth is, these images are so remarkable, the story behind them, which necessarily involves the artist, deserves to be told.
Nevertheless, this is definitely not a exhibition to be missed.
- DiXmiX Galley (Bay Port, rated: Moderate)