Pieter Hugo is a South African of Afrikaner origin born in Johannesburg in 1976 and grown up in Cape Town, where he still lives. He was given his first camera when he was twelve. He began his career as photojournalist but then decided to focus on photographic projects relating to a series of common or “borderline” situations, which he spotted in the South African context or during his journeys through Africa.
Moving along subsequent cycles, he created a series of images eliding the limit between art and document. Hugo explored the most clashing contradictions of his wide and varied continent; using images of vast dumping grounds for technological waste coming from the West, shoots dedicated to Nigerian hyenas, baboons and pythons tamers, portraits of albinos and Nollywood actors and, recently, portraits dedicated to his and other families, to record the deep transformation that Africa is undergoing, its strength and multifaceted wealth, the presence of marginalization and vulnerability pockets.
His images trigger reflections on imbalances, disparities and on the still deep effects of colonialism. But the strength of their communication is also due to their great formal forcefulness: a forcefulness that gathers psychological introspection ability and technique mastery, the control of composition and chromatic elements. The use of medium and large sized camera contributes to giving a monumental character to the human figure in Hugo’s images.
- 11 March 2020