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The desert from the air

Sitting in the left seat, Paul van Schalkwyk has become used to grabbing the joystick with one hand while holding a camera in the other. His vivid images taken from above, bring to the viewer a sense of both intimacy and infinity.

Sitting in the left seat, Paul van Schalkwyk has become used to grabbing the joystick with one hand while holding a camera in the other. His vivid images taken from above, bring to the viewer a sense of both intimacy and infinity.

The inspiring work of well-known photographer Paul van Schalkwyk goes on show next week at the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre in Windhoek.
In 2004, Paul trained as a pilot leading to a new journey in his photographic endeavours. He started  concentrating on aerial landscape photography, generating a unique style and approach within this genre.  From his soaring perspective, the landscape that has inspired him throughout his life has taken on a new visual perspective. Far from conservative documentations of specific scenes or places, the harsh contrasts, extraordinary colours and rich textures in these images invoke a feeling of awe in the viewer.
Paul roams the skies in his two-seater light aeroplane enabling him to capture what is best described as aerial photographic art. Curator Jackie Ruth Murray who has collaborated closely with Paul over the past year has designed a multimedia installation comprising high quality Dibond prints, a 2min video loop, back-lit textual transcript panels juxtaposing quotes with factual information, and physical assemblages from Paul’s aircrafts.
The project is a narrative spanning 10 years of Paul’s quest for a pristine land: a chronicle that has ironically thrust him into a dilemma from which he cannot escape. His yearning to seek out the unblemished, to photograph it and to share it has become a double-edged act of admiration and interruption.
Paul is the first Namibian whose work has qualified for the Hasselblad Masters International Photography Awards for 2014 in two different categories. During August three of his images will be exhibited as part of the ‘Story of the Creative Exhibition’ in the Exposure New York Gallery, and in October and November one of his images will be exhibited in San Diego as part of the Art of Photography Show.
The show presents the viewer with a multi-faceted experience of familiar and unfamiliar landscape locations, which prompt a fascination with the aesthetic of an aerial viewpoint with its ability to see the unseen. It simultaneously probes one’s own association with the land and how our voyager meanderings come to take effect. It points to wider issues of climate change and is thus as much to do with our need to reassess our relationship with the planet as it is to do with our observation of it.
South African art critic and writer, Alexandra Dodd, will open the show on 02 October at 19h00. The exhibition runs until 02 November 2013. It is sponsored by Namdeb.

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