The pictures shown in the exhibition bear witness of the special encounters of the photographer with unique people on his trips through Africa and Asia. Since 1998 Jan C. Schlegel regularly travels to remote places, which are secluded from the tourism of the western world. On his tours the artist observed the rapid decline of traditions and increasing change of the way of life of the people within their tribes due to globalisation. The inexorable changes woke the urgent wish in the photographer to portrait people, to capture impressions and to preserve traditional life forms in his pictures. Thus Schlegel not only creates artistic photographs, but also documents and preserves unique pieces of art – the people themselves. None of people photographed wear special make-up or were specially dressed before the photographs were taken. Nothing was staged, nothing is fake. They were all captured in their own habitat – at the market, in the village square, or simply on the roadside. The only stylistic device Schlegel uses for each one of his photographs is a simple grey background.
During the last years Schlegel visited 61 countries, always in search of the distinctive beauty and variety of the people. The picture’s compositions, the highly contrasted play of light and shadow.
Thus we meet Biwa, 44 years, from Ethiopia (image at left), one of the most respected warriors of his Karo tribe. With pride and great strength he poses in front of the photographer. His fame means, he has killed three lions, four elephants, five leopards, fifteen buffaloes and numerous crocodiles.
The black and white photographs from Jan C. Schlegel are taken with a 4 x 5 field camera (Ebony SV45 Ti) on traditional film (Kodak Tmax 400). The Negatives are developed in Kodak D76 Developer 1+1 dilution. Nothing is digitally edited, and the pictures are enlarged on fiber base photographic paper (Efke Varicon Classic FB) in the size of 50 x 60 cm and 77 x 86 cm.
Afterwards each photographic print is partly toned with Schlegels own mixture. Over two years the artist has personally developed this mixture, which gives the photographs a special internal strength and depth. Often this process takes several hours and turns out differently with each print. This way each print is unique. To guarantee a maximum life and enhance the depth in the shadows each picture is Selen toned and mounted on 2 mm solid aluminium.
Jan C. Schlegel was born in 1965 in the Black Forest of Germany. He is married and has three children. He discovered his passion for photography at the age of 14 with in the scope of a Photo course at school. For his first own camera, the reflex camera Minolta XG9, the 14 year-old saved long. As winner of a AGFA photo competition with focus on portraits, Schlegel took part in a seminar by the photographer Walter Schels in the Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in Munich. Under Walter Schel’s influence Jan C. Schlegel began to ascertain his fervor for black-and-white portraits.
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