Untitled (Edges)

Lionel Wendt Sri Lankan

Not on view

Born in 1900 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Lionel Wendt hailed from the Burgher community, a mixed race, prominent elite minority. Trained as a lawyer and concert pianist in England, Wendt only took up the medium of photography formally in the 1930s. A considered and well-researched photographer, Wendt eagerly kept abreast of technical developments in the field, and would gradually apply them to his work, at times combining a number of different techniques in a single photograph. Most popular amongst the techniques he experimented with are photograms, photomontage, double printing and solarization, the latter of which he encountered in reproductions of photographs by the American surrealist Man Ray. The subject of Wendt’s photographic output runs the gamut from a range of documentary images, to studio portraits, to more experimental photos.

Untitled (Edges) is a rare example of a purely abstract image produced by Wendt. A photogram, the image is composed of a series of ‘edges’ of sheets of different transparency paper that have been exposed to light at varying degrees to achieve a light to dark gradient. The image could be thought of as a series of tests, but the precise formal organization of the composition, the conscious layering of the ‘edges’ to arrive at an ombre effect suggests that the print is more of a complete artistic work. The technical accomplishment of the picture attests to Wendt’s control over the medium, but also his inventiveness and commitment to pushing the formal boundaries of photography.

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