Millenials Exhibition – FotoZA, Rosebank 1-30 June 2017

The Millennials exhibition is currently running till the end of June at FotoZA, a new gallery space in the top floor of the Mall of Rosebank, Johannesburg. The gallery is an extension of Kameraz photography shop, which is on the lower level of the mall. If you don’t know of the shop, Kameraz is my personal favourite camera shop in Joburg with a wonderful rolling stock of used gear digital and film at great prices. Recommended.


Millennials is a show meant to showcase the work of ‘the new generation’, my phrase not theirs. It is a collection of 4 works per entrant with their Instagram vital statistics displayed next to their name above their. The cynic in me wants to point out how those statistics are really actually vital to these Millennials. (Oh and I’m a millennial too I guess, so take it with some irony…) Likes, shares, faves, follows – it’s all that matters to some. I hate that and it’s a big problem with social media. But these are for another, longer, rantier post. But briefly lets say that when Instagram started it was about sharing images and your life through the cool iPhone devices changing the landscape of photography. Then it became a bit more of a portfolio showcase for photographers who figured out how to use their real cameras and make their feeds look a whole lot juicier. Now, however, it is a place that is just overwhelmed by people showing off in endlessly repeating video loops and other craptastic forms of making content just to be there and fill space and steal someone on the other side of the planet’s precious mindshare. It is now just like Facebook and Twitter and every other social media site there is and will be that gets big enough to appeal to the masses, be capitalisable by industry and just another place for people to make more noise than signal in their endless watery attempts to gain a foothold long enough to milk 15 minutes of fame and become, literally my worst thing in the world, an influencer. Vomit. Anyway..

Back to the exhibition. What I thought was most interesting was whether the entrants were able to create a good combination of works with the very limited space of just 4 pieces: how well did each complement the others and did they tell a story (however short), was there an overall aesthetic or style visible from the selection, or were these just 4 of their faves? You see, more and more, I believe that curation is become a new, much needed talent. We are inundated with content and we are able to create more content than we know what to do with. Can these young artists and new breed of photographers – as the exhibition wants us to view them – look at their own work critically and put together a powerful statement, even if it is very brief?

There are a few that I thought succeeded in this. Here they are.

Nkgopoleng Moloi – @nkgopolengmoloi

A lovely study of a local mosque by Nkgopoleng Moloi. The tones and washed-out colours create a lovely, tranquil, if perhaps ominous, mood.

Shipo Biyam – @iownthesphinx

Kodachrome-esqe colour,  bold compositions and a nice balance between the 4 images makes Sihpo Biyam’s collection very eye-catching. Also, apparently, Sipho owns the Sphinx…

Armani Quintas – @black_moth_photo

Nicely balanced images and gentle colours hold together well with Armani Quintas’ work, which is like a small story about a girl. We are left wondering who she is. Also, just look at those bokeh balls!

Sarah Harding – @sarahhardingwhat

There’s something whimsical about Sarah Harding’s 4 images. They are like a cryptic diary entry. We know almost enough to walk away and then we stop, wnting to know more but just can’t…

Jennifer Wang – @hello_misswang

Fantastic use of double exposure. Jennifer Wang has skill in combining not just the images that make these double exposures work, but also in putting them together with one another. A playful and joyous group of images.


Overall, a pleasant show, with some really nice images.

Also the coffee is great and the space is ideal to get some work done. Thanks Thandi for the excellent cappuccino.



Petite – An Exhibition

I’m trying something a little different for the end-of-year exhibition this year. I had a small launch of the opening today at my home studio, which was nice, and am putting the show up on my website for the next week, perhaps longer.

Here’s how the prints look in the studio:

This show is called Petite and all the prints are small and intimate. The images are of still lifes and what I’ve called quiet scenes – all the photographs seem to work better as small and very detailed prints.

You can see the show on my website at

Enjoy and thanks for looking. Would love to hear any feedback on this idea.

Scenes with Imperfection

Composed of 4 images, Scenes with Imperfection, is a meditation on life and the passing of time. The 4 images evoke the sense of seasons, though it is intentionally unclear which image relates to which season. All the images are careful still-life’s with a nod to Japanese minimalism. Shot on Medium format black and white film, the images have a gentle, beautiful quality about them. When I developed the film, I carefully mis-loaded the film into the developing tanks so that there would be natural and unexpected imperfections – some parts of the film touched and the chemicals did not develop evenly; a part of the developing tank was opened briefly to allow light to cause light leaks on parts of the film; some of the film got scratched while being mis-loaded.

The result is a blend of the careful and the spontaneous. And the images came out unique and full of subtle character. I am extremely pleased at the result and the prints are detailed and beautiful, perfect printed at 20cm x 20cm allowing them to remain delicate objects that call out for close inspection.

The names of the 4 prints are Orchid, Babushka, Guitar, and Bonsai. They are all images of wood in different stages of life, all used for our aesthetic pleasures in different ways – to create beauty from carved wood and paint, from sound and craftsmanship, from tending to them and loving them, and from their natural beauty.

In case you are interested in the technical information, all images were shot with a Ricohflex VII, on Fujifilm Acros 100 and developed in D76 for ten minutes. They were scanned with a CanoScan 9000F and dust removal, cleaning up and dodging and burning was done in both Aperture and Photoshop.

Here are the images:

Scenes with Imperfection, Orchid, 2014

Scenes with Imperfection, Babushka, 2014

Scenes with Imperfection, Guitar, 2014

Scenes with Imperfection, Bonsai, 2014

Prep Makes Perfect – Pre-Exhibition Mock Up

In October I held an exhibition of new work at The Cow Artworks in Parkhurst. I used this exhibition to show a different side of my work – more street photography based where I combined architecture and city exploration with a bit more ‘found-scenes’.

One of the hardest parts of any exhibition I’ve found is the hanging. What goes where? It can bring you and your loved ones to blows, if they are daring enough to assist with the hanging.

I read a lovely interview with Wolfgang Tillmans in a wonderful magazine called Fantastic Man (both man and mag highly recommended) in which he described creating scale models of his exhibition spaces and then doing the planning and layout beforehand.

Best. Idea. Ever.

This made the process of which works to hang together much, much easier. I first sat down with my girlfriend Tallula and we grouped images in different combinations looking at colour, size, theme and so on. Finally we did a basic layout on the walls of the scale model. Then I was left alone to my devices and did the final tweakings so that I created a flow for the viewers as they walked around the space.

An interesting oddity was one small print that I put quite low on a small wall. People would have to bend down and look at the print and would then be eye-to-eye with the subject. It turned out to be the best selling print of the show. If this was a factor I am not sure.

Review – Nelson Mandela Poster Exhibition

On the 17th of July, I attended the opening of the Mandela Poster Project at the University of Pretoria. There was lots of press and so I decided to take a different look at the exhibition: examine not just at the work but also at the people and their interaction with the posters.

Marking the statesman’s 95th birthday, which fell the following day, the exhibition is a collection of excellent work – each submission from a designer somewhere in the world culminating in a body of work rich in difference and held together by a common love and admiration of Nelson Mandela and his life’s work.

There was a curious sense of fate hanging over the display of work due to the timing of the exhibition. Mandela, now supposedly out of the worst of it, has been in hospital under close supervision. Aging noticeably in the last few years, this is no real surprise. Thrilled as I am, and the rest of the world too, that Mandela is doing better, I couldn’t help but wonder if indeed he would make it to the next day and reach his 95th birthday. Sombre I know. But nonetheless…

There were hushed mutterings and quite discussions. People seemed a little afraid to be too exuberant. Video cameras filmed the onlookers and presenters spoke with some of the artists and organizers. Photographers wondered around snapping away at the work and the people. Everyone there had their smart-phones out documenting every moment. They could have been a little part of history. In fact they were, just without much fanfare.

As fate would happily have it, Mandela did reach the milestone. All 95 of the posters sit comfortably representing a year in the great man’s life. Initially, the project orchestrators did not expect the massive response to the call for submissions that came flooding into their inboxes. They should have. Over 700 submissions came in. Awed at the number, the decision was made to organize along with a worldwide roaming exhibition of the 95 finalists, a special showcase of 500 of the total entries.
I spoke with a teacher who was there. He felt, unsurprisingly, that exhibitions like this should be in places where the youth and underprivileged could have access to the posters, so that they could be a part of the celebration and so that they could be educated and inspired. 

One of the artists, Gareth Steele, in front of his submission.
The work is good and a testament to an eminent man. Everyone was keen to get in on the act. The quality of the work was mixed, as it always seems to be at these crowd-sourced things. There was a healthy mix of strong design with clever use of negative space, colours and typography. There was also a smattering of the so-so. But this is not an art exhibition: this is a call for those who wanted to, to create a tribute to a man they revere. In this light, it is a huge success and some of the works are really wonderful pieces of design. 

But, Dear Administrators, marketing still matters. In an age where people expect social media and a famous name to launch an event to the top of the twitter-verse and everyone’s news-feed, the opening was small and sufficient and filled with those who already knew about it long in advance. I was lucky enough to be there, a guest of a Facebook ‘ticket winner’. Plus one for social media. I’d never have known about it otherwise. I just hope that other people, outside of a small room in a University with nice suits and polite opinions, get to see and enjoy the posters.

© D. Rosenthal 2013 All Rights Reserved.

Next Show – Stand at the Antique Fair 28-30 October 2011

There’s going to be a few of my works up at the annual antique fair at the Wanderers Club, 28-30 October 2011
Antique Dealers Fair, The Wanderers Club, Johannesburg – Select pieces will be on display at the White House Gallery’s stand at the fair. If you are a fan of antiques, this fair is a wonderful morning out.
Hope you can make it.

Thanks for coming

I’d just like to say a huge thank you to those of you who made it to the opening last night at the White House Gallery.

There were less of my works up than I thought there’d be (wall-space is always a problem…) but it was still wonderful to have work up on the same walls as Picassos and Warhols. A real honour. If you came to see the new series South African Landscapes let me know, I can always arrange a viewing. And I plan on having these up again soon.
Thanks again to White House Gallery too for having my work up.
Thank you.

Next Exhibition – White House Gallery

I’m thrilled to be a part of the White House Gallery’s upcoming group show on the 22nd September 2011.

The show will feature works by international and South African artists. If nothing else, come to see the amazing and unusual Andy Warhol’s of Mick Jagger and the work by Jim Dine. Great stuff.
I’ll have photographs from previous series as well as unseen works form a new series called South African Landscapes.
Come for drinks and snacks from 6:00pm till 8:00pm.
Hope to see you there.

Notes on collaboration (by proxy)

The recent show Joburg – An Exhibiton in which I exhibited along with fellow artist Andrew Sprawson, was a learning curve for me. All exhibitions are but this one in particular had an element I’ve never experienced – close collaboration.

I’ve had work in group shows before. In most group shows there’ll be a grey enough area for all the works up to ‘work’ together in concept and theme: call the show Young South African Creatives and you can hang almost anything by anyone.
But what was really intriguing for me was the similarity in outlook, style and content between Andrew’s and my works. This was all the more surprising to me, and perhaps to him, when we first saw each others’ works; the similarities had us asking ourselves how we didn’t create these works in collaboration – we’d never met before a coffee 2 months before the show to view his work.
My girlfriend Tallula and I are starting a small gallery and Andrew’s work was to be our first show. I knew the content of his work was Johannesburg drawings in black and white and so I was hoping, if and only if there was a decent connection between the works, to exhibit with him. When we saw one another’s works we were a bit stupefied: it really looked we’d been creating these works in tandem. Even our concept and idea behind what we were trying to convey had a close relationship albeit from a different approach in philosophy and medium.
Tallula was curating the show. It was really her baby, I was just one of the artists and the guy who was told what to design for the posters. Thank goodness for letting go a bit: I had originally wanted to show only my one series The Vacant Heart with Andrew’s work. After listening (grudgingly [I’m an artist ok?]) to the curator – someone with more distance from both sets of works – I relented and put up work from other series and only those photogrpahs that worked together in a pair with Andrew’s pieces. This is where the amazing similarities between Andrew’s and my works became apparent.
This exhibition was a wonderful experience for me. I learnt a lot about letting go, trusting others and their opinions on my work, and the relationships (both socially and artistically) in showing work with another artist with similar vision.
People loved the show and this made me and Tallula very happy. Having the works up for a month allowed people to come back to visit and go at their leisure.
I hope I get the chance to work with Andrew again – his work is really outstanding.

Joburg – An exhibition

An exhibition with fellow South African artist Andrew Sprawson and myself entitled Joburg – An Exhibition has been running for the last month at Main Street Life in downtown Johannesburg.

It’s about to come down (you have till this Thursday if you’d try to make it…) and I’ll be writing a post about the experience of putting on the show and thoughts about exhibitions in general.
I’d like to thank all of you who came to the opening, went to the exhibition during the last month, and to those who bought work. Thank you.