The African Portraitist

I checked out agnes b. Librarire Galerie the other day. As you might know, agnes b. is originally a French clothing brand, but has developed into a lifestyle brand, with their own cafès and galleries. Especially here in Asia it seems to be very big.

The gallery, which is situated in Wan Chai, has a lovely photography exhibition on until the 19th of May. It shows work from the photographers Malick Sidibè, J.D.’ Okhai Ojeikere, Nicolas Dhervillers, and Seydou Keïta.

Keïta is the reason I wanted to write this post. I fell in love with his amazing portraits from Africa. And got curious, since I hadn’t heard of him before. Turns out he only got discovered in the 1990s in the West, after he’d been doing photography for several years. He lived in Bamako, Mali from he was born in 1921 ’till he died in 2001. A self-taught photographer, he opened a studio in 1948 and specialized in portraiture. A lot of his clients got dressed up in smart European clothes and accessories.

Keïta worked primarily with daylight and for economic reasons he would usually just take a single shot for each photo. Pretty unheard of these days, right? 

agnes b. Librairie Galerie, 1/F, 18 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong


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