x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Steeped in nature’s majesty

Christian Ghammachi’s photographs are up in Showcase Gallery for only one more day. If you can, go check them out, says Anna Seaman.

Christian Ghammachi’s photographs in Forsaken are drained of colour to the point that they look black and white and, a times, post-apocalyptic. Courtesy Showcase Gallery
Christian Ghammachi’s photographs in Forsaken are drained of colour to the point that they look black and white and, a times, post-apocalyptic. Courtesy Showcase Gallery

In a saturated world of digital images, it is difficult to make an impact as impressive as the one Christian Ghammachi makes. But his photography, currently on display at Showcase Gallery, is literally breathtaking.

And, although we live in a world of superlatives and exaggeration, that is not an overstatement.

Who is Christian Ghammachi?

French-Lebanese and raised in Beirut and Bahrain, Ghammachi began experimenting with photography at a young age. But it wasn’t until he moved to Cape Town, South Africa, that he found the landscapes, animals and people that inspire his work today. His portfolio includes photographs from South Africa, Kenya, Nepal, Cuba, India, the Middle East and Europe, but the series in Showcase focuses on his African works.

Forsaken

In this exhibition, which is Showcase’s first attempt at putting together a photography show, the images depict powerful majesty in the form of the elephant, lion and zebra and strikingly dramatic landscapes.

Drained of colour to the point of being almost black and white, the images contain just enough nuance to make them dreamlike and, at times, post-apocalyptic. Printed on metallic paper and with every minute detail visible, they almost feel three-dimensional and the elephants that stride through three of Ghammachi’s images, in a series titled The March, convey a range of emotions.

Nature vs nurture

A fascination with the destructive capabilities of nature as well as the resilience of humans and animals within that environment is evident in all of Ghammachi’s work. In Fate, Tilt and Lines, the abandoned houses in the ghost town of Kolmanskop, Namibia – a very wealthy mining town that was forsaken in 1954 – are equally dramatic and quite stunning in their composition.

Eduard Bohlen captures the essence of the show. The image, of a shipwreck that lies a quarter of a mile inland from Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and is more than 100 years old, looms larger than its actual size in the context of the gallery. Its size and hollowed-out shell mirrors the cloud-speckled vastness of the sky. And as the body of the ship falls away, it fuses with the desert, almost drawing the viewer with it.

One more day

Although there’s only one more day to catch the exhibition in full, the most important pieces will be on display in the gallery’s permanent collection upstairs. Another show is planned for the new year in a public location yet to be confirmed.

• Forsaken runs until November 18 in Showcase Gallery in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. For more information, visit www.christian­ghammachi.com

 

aseaman@thenational.ae

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