Photographers We Love: Kyle Weeks

WORDS Palesa Kgasane IMAGES Kyle Weeks

Imagine an African paradise with cascading palm trees set against the backdrop of a bright blue sky. Kyle Weeks’s work gives life to this nostalgia.

The Namibia-born Cape Town-based artist is one of the nine photographers who recently exhibited at the Nataal Media and Red Hook labs show in New York. The New African photography ii exhibition featured a selection of artists whose work engages with present-day Africa. Not a stranger to the international art scene, Kyle Weeks has earned his stripes being featured in publications such as TIME in just a few years. No matter where you are from, Kyle’s powerful imagery holds a narrative that resonates beyond the realms of cultural understanding.

We were particularly amazed by his Palm-wine Collectors series, taken in November 2015. The images capture Namibian natives on or under palm-wine trees, overlooking a murky river and resting on the beauty of the hills and the sky. The engaging images resemble life-like paintings on canvas; a testament to Kyle’s fine eye and skill when it comes to capturing things as they are happening.

Other works that are well worth noting are the Ovahimba Youth Self-Portraits series, which Kyle shot shortly after completing his studies in Stellenbosch in 2013. This series is a juxtaposed perspective of the Ovahimba people, a civilisation that has maintained its cultural roots, unmarred by Western civilisation. However, in these images, Kyle captures these young men in “modern” clothing, portraying the nuances of interpreting what they learn and choosing to adopt aspects of the modern world in a way that separates them from the gaze of exoticism. His work forms part of a growing number of photographers who are changing the ways in which Africa’s people are portrayed, making his work all the more empowering.

Kyle’s work critically engages with contemporary ideas of a new Africa without imposing any views. His work also extends into the realm of fashion, which includes styled collaborative shoots of local South African designers, such as Nicholas Coutts.

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