Pirelli has been an innovative Special Project partner of the FNB Joburg Art Fair for the past three years. This year, Pirelli presents a new body of work by South African artist, Pieter Hugo
Pieter Hugo has been commissioned by Pirelli to produce a series of artworks exploring of the notion of natural beauty.
John Berger writes: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude.”
At the Salon of 1865 Édouard Manet presented his Olympia to the Parisian public. Manet eschewed conceptions of Venus and thus departed from the canonical understanding of the female nude. Crowds and critics were shocked by the absence of idealism.
Pieter Hugo abandons the type of conventional nude romanticised by the Pirelli Calendar. This series rejects idealism, negotiates realism, subverts the classical and erotic traditions, and thwarts the scopophilia of the male gaze.
Each expressionless nude stares at the spectator with direction. The figures, men and women, are conscious of being watched, the spectator is aware of that consciousness. This interaction becomes unsettling, awkward.
The subjects were paid as models and photographed at their own homes. The nudes and locations are actively ordinary, natural, imperfect. The nude is stripped of the veneer of ‘allure’ that has been created for it by Western media.
Pirelli has been an innovative projects sponsor at the FNB Joburg Art Fair for the past 3 years.This year we are thrilled to announce that Pirelli will be presenting a new body of work by South African artist, Pieter Hugo.
Hugo’s large-format digital camera system lends minutiae of tiny details to each photograph, enforcing an ‘uncanny valley’ of cold realism. Bitten nails and blemishes, an asymmetrical bust here, a sheepish penis there. The authentic is unforgiving.
The illusion of idealism is denied. By approaching the riddle of the naked body in this way, Hugo offers a critical reflection on the medium and language of photography itself.
Hugo’s collaboration with Pirelli marks the inauguration of this new series.
Pieter Hugo Biography
Pieter Hugo was born in 1976 in Johannesburg and grew up in Cape Town, where he continues to live. His survey exhibition, This Must Be the Place, opened at the Hague Museum of Photography and travelled to the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, in 2012. Solo shows have also taken place at MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome (2011); the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2010); the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney (2009), and Foam_Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (2008), among many others. Group exhibitions include Africa: There and Back at the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany (2012); Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at the V&A Museum, London (2011); The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989 at ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (2011); The Endless Renaissance at Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida (2009); Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography at Tate Modern, London (2008); An Atlas of Events at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2007); and the 27th São Paulo Bienal (2006). He was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art in 2007, and won the KLM Paul Huf Award and the Arles Discovery Award at the Rencontres d'Arles Photography Festival in 2008. He won the Seydou Keita award at the 9th Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in Mali (2011) and has been nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012.