Untitled (Portrait of a Sailing Boat)

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 (Portrait of a Sailing Boat) is a very accomplished example of Wendt’s experimentation with montage. The beaches and natural environs of Sri Lanka are recurrent subjects in Wendt’s oeuvre, captured mostly in documentary images, but here Wendt presents a mise en abyme by skillfully layering the same foreground image onto the background. Wendt seems to be interested in thinking about the Ceylonese landscape as a visual construct, one that perhaps exists as a projection. With his play on perspective in this picture Wendt transforms a conventional view of the sea into a metaphysical consideration.

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