'Metamorphisis' by Tatenda Chidora

Muted but complicated colour in the images of Tatenda Chidora

Photographer, Tatenda Chidora embraces form through the figure. Limbs and bodies expound into shape, line and colour. Chidora has not always embraced colour, his earlier work was peppered with the simplicity and minimalism of the monochrome palette. With his later work, we are confronted with the same principles of clarity and lucidity that has carried through to his colour photography. It is this clarity that renders the photographs alluring—pulling relentlessly and working on the compassionate gaze.

I’m interested in how Chidora plays with colour in this work. His images are enveloped with dark and deep hues that present a crisp but very complex language. Colour becomes sound and it is responding to light.

Colour is the selective absorption and emission of light on the surface of an object. A photograph full of muted but complicated colour is similar to a full orchestra playing a quiet passage: powerful resources used to create a subtle effect.

– Teju Cole.

The Zimbabwean-born photographer graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a BTech in Photography in 2015. His practice oscillates between fine art and commercial art, blurring these distinctions in the process. He works within commercial photography and is represented by Lampost Productions and recently, he presented his first solo show⁠ at Bkhz Studio and GalleryUntil We Safe— alongside a separate exhibition by Lunga Ntila, Ukuzilanda.

Chidora’s images present strong elements of foregrounding where subjects are placed with dramatic prominence, creating a tension between grandeur and tenderness. One particular image with this kind of tension is Struss bob, it wasn’t me (2017). An arm is raised, it is dark. The darkness is accentuated by the clear white background. Move up the arm from the bottom of the image towards the top and you find a hand with fingers that are contorted —screw, twist, warp, deform. These fingers are painted red, perhaps blood or a thick blood-like substance. The image seduces you; it is gruesome yet alluring, grisly yet appealing, ghastly and attractive. Your attention is caught and your mind stretched tight. The image remains unresolved; whose hand is depicted, why are the fingers contorted, what is the red substance, who is looking inside the image, what is the gaze and where on our bodies does it land?

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