A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Most photographers made no attempt to depict anything but the most crude stereotypes of what white Europeans and Americans expected or wanted to see. Acebes was a glaring exception.
His subjects were the people, of all ages and social positions, from the most remote, primitive areas of the continent, to the most metropolitan of cities. But his camera and his perspective caught something special. While other photographers used 35mm cameras, which they pointed like a gun at the subject, Acebes preferred a Rolleiflex, a camera he held at belt level, composing the shot by looking down. The photographer could then look up and make eye contact with the subject a second before releasing the shutter. The result captured that bit of personality and humanity so wanting in other photos of that era. Acebes explained that this method was less intimidating and created a personal relationship with the subject.
The photographer recently celebrated his 85th anniversary and lives in Bogotá, Colombia.
Acebes’ little known work has been rediscovered by the Brussels MoBa
gallery, who is staging this solo show with thirty silver gelatin prints in a
European premier entitled “Hector Acebes: Portraits in Africa 1948-1953.”
see more images at http://www.moba.be/acebes_gallery.html
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