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African Photography: Photomontage, Part 2

Posted in Photography  |  January 20, 2018

African Photography: Photomontage, Part 2
Today, photomontage is popular among young African artists who are proficient with the digital creation of images. They are pushing the boundaries of digital image editing to produce time-intensive compositions that rival the demands of the traditional arts. Their images often combine painting, illustration, graphics, and typography in a seamless photographic artwork, which become a powerful tool to tell a story or report sociopolitical issues.

Tahir Carl Karmali

Tahir Carl Karmali was born in 1987 in Nairobi, Kenya. Starting his career as a food photographer, he has turned to a more diverse practice including portraiture, conceptual photography, and photomontage. In 2014, he moved to New York to pursue a graduate degree in digital photography at the School of Visual Arts. Karmali mainly works with digital photography, installation, and collage. His work covers themes of identities and their influence by economic, geopolitical, and social systems. He aims for his photography to communicate a concept that leads the viewers to question their own perceptions. In his Towel Heads (2014) series, with the simple use of a towel as a prop, Karmali unites a group of diverse people and produces portraits with a raw quality. Inspired by the jua kali workers – artisans who work with recycle and found objects, he produces a series of images using photomontage to portray them. In Jua Kali (2016), each image shows an individual who has found a little niche for himself in the everyday struggle for survival. Found objects are interwoven with the heads of the portrayed to form an anatomic unit. Karmali took pictures of the objects to create his collages, and combined them spontaneously with photos of the artisans.

Jua Kali by Tahir Carl Karmali

Jua Kali by Tahir Carl Karmali

Paul Sika

Paul Sika was born in 1985 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Growing with a passion for video games and programming, he studied in Software Engineering at the University of Westminster in London between 2003 and 2007. Upon graduation, he moved back to his native country where he started a career in photography a year later. Sika developed an approach that he called photomaking – a portmanteau for photography and filmmaking. This technique consists of digitally making an image rather than capturing it. Thus, Sika creates his photographs in a cinematographic way, producing astonished scenes that highlight the people and objects. His brightly-coloured images are dense and force the viewer into an unfamiliar space, opening the way for new conversations. His work is a combination of artistic inspiration, self-imagination, and visual expression. His creativity is influenced by the Ivorian popular culture, contemporary paintings, and video games that illustrate his story-telling. In Lilian’s Appeal (2012), the colorful images show people striking exaggerated poses in the street or common places. When viewed in a sequence, the photographs seem to follow a script or tell a story.

Tout Mignon by Paul Sika

Dandelia by Paul Sika

Dillon Marsh

Dillon Marsh was born in 1981 in Cape Town, South Africa. He developed his passion for photography while studying Fine Art at the University of Stellenbosch. After his graduation in 2003, he spent about ten years travelling and working in various positions in the creative industry, while always taking photographs. His love for travel led him to develop sets of photographs that document the places he has visited. Marsh’s work is influenced by the typology, a photographic style that always places the subject at the center of the image. He developed several landscape photography series that feature objects that can be found in multitude within their environment. Each series depicts things that are out of the ordinary, picking them out of the landscape where they might otherwise blend in. In the series For What It’s Worth (2014), Marsh combined photography with digital objects to visualise the amount of material extracted from a mine. The intent was to bring the spotlight on the South African mining industry, questioning the social and environmental impact of the mines in the country.

Nababeep South Mine by Dillon Marsh

West Rand Gold Field by Dillon Marsh

Vincent Michéa

Vincent Michéa was born in 1963 in Figeac, France. After graduating from the ESAG Penninghen – a school of art direction and interior architecture in Paris, he moved to Dakar in 1986. He worked as a graphic designer and exhibited his paintings and photographs for the first time at the National Gallery of Senegal in 1987. From this exhibition onwards to 1991, he worked as assistant of the renowned graphic designer Roman Cieslewicz. Greatly encouraged by the latter, he threw himself into painting profusely.  Working with different media including photography, graphics, and collage, Michéa creates narratives that are inspired by his hometown Dakar. His palette is made up of the bold colours and hard edges common in West African fabrics. Michéa often covers parts of his subjects’ identity with colourful geometric shapes. Using the illustrated aesthetic of a graphic postcard, his hyperrealist paintings capture Dakar's glamour as a modern West African city. His urban scenes document the city's landscape with emphasis on its forms and textures, which echo the style of David Hockney.

Yellow by Vincent Michea

Yellow by Vincent Michea