Opiate dreams / Nudes

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.

A dominant strand in Wendt’s oeuvre is carefully composed studio portraits, with an explicit focus on the body, mostly the nude or half clothed male body. Opiate dreams / Nudes hails from a smaller group of photographs that take the female body as a subject. Wendt’s use of montage, and moving between the full frontal imagery and in the background a tighter crop on the female’s nude torso, heighten the suggestion of a dreamlike or altered state of mind. Wendt is exploring the use of modern technique to convey an internal sensation, imparting a surreal overtone to the image.

Opiate dreams / Nudes, Lionel Wendt (Sri Lankan, Colombo 1900–1944 Colombo), Gelatin silver print, montage

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