John Kenny: African Beauty at the African Centre
Over the course of seven years, photographer John Kenny travelled to Africa and amassed a collection of portraits capturing the dynamic and diverse selection of its communities. As the title of the exhibition suggests, the aim of Kenny’s journey was to reflect the unique beauty of the African people and how this coincides with the traditional aspects of its different societies.
Of course, when one considers the (literally) gargantuan vastness of the continent, one will naturally question as to how many of these aspects of beauty and visual expression are encapsulated by the photographer, and how informative these portraits will be in revealing the differing practises of a number of tribes. After all, Africa possesses a staggering amount of ethnic diversity. Being able to capture this appears to be an arduous task: especially when trying to do so in photography.
Fortunately, Kenny was able to capture these aspects, as well as deliver portraits both aesthetically absorbing and captivating. Furthermore, these educate the observer on the rituals and methods used by various indigenous communities, including how they present themselves and alter their appearance with little resources.
The majority of Kenny’s portraits were constructed with natural lighting that allow the subject to glow against the backdrop of natural darkness, which lends an almost unreal quality. His collection successfully conveys African beauty without any alterations to the presentation of the subjects, giving Kenny’s photography an almost unrivalled sense of place and subject.
African Beauty is an informative and enjoyable exhibition that wonderfully captures the diversity and vibrancy of the continent. The only let down is that it somehow feels as if there should have been more portraits to add to the overall atmosphere and intention of the exhibition. Regardless of this, what is on display is intriguing, alluring and insightful.
Photos: Lucia Hrda
John Kenny: African Beauty is at the Africa Centre from 24TH May to 9th June 2013. For further information visit the centre’s website here.
For further information about John Kenny visit his website here.