It takes a lot to get me past the threshold of Haas.
I’m over hyped places spouting craft this and artisan that, terms used fast and loose to justify bad service and average food. So you can imagine that it was a colossal effort on my part and honestly wouldn’t have done it for anyone other than Jenna McArthur (@Jenna_McArthur).
But that is a story for another time. I’m fortunate to live in a city centred around the creative industries so I’ve heard of ‘underground artists’ before, however Capetonian Krisjan Rossouw, a self-taught photographer who first caught our eye at yet another of emerging PR power-house Jenna McArthur’s events for KlŭKCGDT x Levi Denim exhibition last year during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2015, is quite literally an underground artist. ‘Dark Paradise is the latest evolutionary exhibition was shot in an underground bomb shelter built in 1902 over a number of years utilising the iconic walls stained with over a hundred of years of ageing as the striking backdrop for his elegant subjects.
This portraiture, something of a phenomenon is the gentle play of darkness and light on overwhelmingly beautiful models is hard to turn away from. ‘Dark Paradise’ illustrates that Krisjan is doubtlessly a photographer with extraordinary technique and a pitch perfect eye! The project was shot over a period of two and a half years and centre’s on subjects [gorgeous models] from Ghana, Jamaica, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.
His innovation comes from the lack of formal training which means that, his inability to access to professional lighting he began experimenting with smaller light sources from singular tungsten lamps to LED torches. Then in a process of layering and highlighting, finding contrasts he thought worked he managed to keep the simplicity and naiveté of the original play of light.
we never dreamt of seas, images below:
The artist’s second solo exhibition of 23 photographs is an extension of Dark Paradise in that it too flowed from his exploration of the connection between identity, strength and history via the ocean and debris that take on a different form and beauty when washed ashore.
Roussow meant months collecting seaweed at low tide and two years working on the collection. The photographs allude to the ocean as a place of baptism and source of food and life but also to the horror of slave crossings.
girl with orchid, images below:
The 10 photographs in the collection began as a commission for a single image for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2015. One of the prints was donated to a Dutch charity and auctioned with another for a local charity.
“I did not plan to use orchids. We were at the fashion week to launch event and they happened to be decorating the cocktail tables. As we were leaving, I saw them lying on the ground about to be thrown out. It seemed a shame that they were not to live beyond that. Girl with Orchids grew from there” said Krisjan about the haughtily beautiful images.
“I like weekends in small towns. I love the rain, especially when it wakes me in the middle of the night. I say a lot of silly things. I cry in sad movies and laugh too loudly in funny ones. I like people who haven’t forgotten how to laugh. I don’t think I’m ever really going to grow up. I’m totally okay with that. I don’t think anyone should have to” quipped Krisjan once and is in my opinion the quintessential dinner guest and definitely hope to see him around more.
Thank you to Jenna McArthur and the lovely ladies from Jenna McArthur PR for the kind invitation to attend (and for their understanding when I didn’t).
Make sure you get to see the exhibition at Haas Collective, 19 Buitenkant Street before the week is up and save up plenty of $$$ to buy the collection in its entirety.