Bachelor Cruising South

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.

Bachelor Cruising South is among Wendt's more enigmatic images. The image depicts a hand, presumably male, reaching towards an electric light source to cover or obfuscate partially its intensity. Considering the title of the photograph, there might be an evocation of the nocturnal activity of ‘cruising,’ loosely regarded as the search for casual, anonymous sex. Sexually provocative or suggestive imagery is not uncommon in Wendt’s oeuvre, mostly taking the form of carefully composed nude studio portraits of male and female bodies. However, such suggestive instances, with a coded allusion to homosexuality as is the case with Bachelor Cruising South are rarer.

Bachelor Cruising South, Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, Colombo 1900–1944 Colombo), Gelatin silver print

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