“My work is about the notion of being an outsider: I feel I inhabit this space myself and I embrace this awareness as a way to engage with the people I photograph. I almost always work by announcing myself at the outset; I look, and I am equally looked at. When making a portrait there is a brief moment in which cynicism disappears. There is beauty in being held in the gaze of another.” Pieter Hugo
SOLUS VOL. 1, Pieter Hugo’s latest series of portraits, focuses on young people whom he met while working with New York model agency Midland. At the agency’s office, Pieter Hugo noticed the unembellished casting photos of young fashion models and was struck by their authenticity. Midland works in a particular niche within the fashion industry, specialising in models from the street who don’t conform to the aesthetic norms that hold sway there. Surprisingly, the mainstream-shunning agency took root in the fashion world, where generally atypical beauty is shunned. Pieter Hugo photographed the young street cast models in London, Paris, New York, Cape Town and Johannesburg. The images emphasise all that is unique and idiosyncratic about them. Beauty ideals and distinct gender categories have no relevance here.
By not trying to create an illusion of flawlessness, the portraits exude great intimacy. All ‘irregularities’ that are otherwise airbrushed out or touched up are plain to see here, forming a marked contrast with the unrealistic images perpetuated by mainstream media. It’s only in a time of global crises that people begin to suspect that they can’t subject their natural environment and their own natures to unrealistic unobtainable standards.
Primarily shot as head-and-shoulders portraits, the young people present themselves with confidence, defining their external appearance through hairstyles, tattoos and jewellery. In some cases, the protagonists opted to remove some or all their clothing to enhance the “vulnerability and frailty” of the intimate situation. This also gave rise to remarkable full-length nudes.
PIETER HUGO – SOLUS VOL. 1 is the fifth individual exhibition at PRISKA PASQUER to feature works by Pieter Hugo. It showcases selected works from his portrait series of the same name, created between 2019 and 2021 and unveiled for the first time at the international photo festival “Les Rencontres d’Arles” in 2021.
Beginning the new exhibition series called ONE TO ONE2 at PRISKA PASQUER GALLERY in Cologne, this exhibition will be opened between 3 and 5 September 2021 to coincide with the DC Open weekend.
With a wider selection of works, the PIETER HUGO – SOLUS VOL. 1 exhibition can be viewed at the same time in the PRISKA PASQUER VIRTUAL GALLERY.
Pieter Hugo – Solus Vol. 1
September 3 – October 30, 2021
Priska Pasquer Gallery