Untitled (Portrait and Profile with Turban)

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 and Profile with Turban) is an exemplar of Wendt’s proficiency as a technically skilled photographer, who was committed to experimentation and exploring the limits of modern photographic technology. Here he combines two different techniques— solarization and montage—to achieve a balanced and beautiful composition of two layered close up perspectives of a male model’s face in profile, his head covered in a turban. Untitled (Portrait and Profile with Turban) is not a portrait of a subject, but a stylized formal study. The use of solarization heightens and focuses attentions on the handsome features of the male model. Coupled with the montage the image exudes a strong surreal quality.

Untitled (Portrait and Profile with Turban), Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, Colombo 1900–1944 Colombo), Solarized gelatin silver print, montage

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