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Lily Allen by Nadav Kander

Nadav Kander: Selected Portraits 1999-2011

Reviewed by Sara Porter May 2011

The Lowry 16 April to 04 September 2011


Nadav Kander is considered to be one of the great, current, portrait photographers. His portfolio covers a range of actors, performers, directors, musicians and he was commissioned to photograph the Obama administration when it took it’s place in the White  House for the New York Times Magazine. He is also the winner of the Prix Pictet ‘Earth’ 2009 for his 'Yangtze, The Long River' series and was the 2009 International Photographer of the Year at the prestigious Lucie awards.


Whilst you may not recognise the name, you will have certainly seen some of his images, if only from the current Take That album “Progress” and in fact some of the images from this album are the initial photographs in this display of memorable work covering 1999-2011. Kander’s work almost covers a who’s who of popular culture at this time, including images of Eric Cantona, Cheryl Cole, Christopher Lee, Lily Allen, Spike Jonze and Ian McKellen to name but a few.


Kander was born in Israel but as a very young child moved to South Africa. When he was 17, he was involved in a serious motorbike accident and after recovering from this he really began to build on a love of photography that has developed from his father. As part of his National Service he worked in a darkroom printing aerial photographs and a day after finishing his service he went to work for the renowned photographer Harry De Zitter.


The photographs in this exhibition are a wonderful example of a style that cannot be put into a stereotyped genre. Whilst they are portraits, the approach to taking them is unique. The text panels that accompany the exhibit explores his approach through an interview with the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sandy Nairne and provide a fascinating insight into his methodology.


Eric Cantona by Nadav KanderWith a lot of the images in this exhibit there is a minimalist approach to the staging, with very sparse backdrops, there is almost a sculptural quality to the images that draws you straight into the eyes of the sitter and this effect is enhanced by his use of lighting.


The text panels state ‘What’s the point in taking a picture that shows how you are usually represented?’ and leads you into images that are a cross between fine art and portrait photography. Using a series of coloured gels and slow exposure the images of David Beckham and Michael Stipe with light trails in their eyes, fits his desire to photograph those people who are instantly recognisable in a unique way.


A further insight into how Kander works collaboratively is also illustrated through an interview with Take That’s Mark Owen which accompanies the Progress album headshots.


Kander is a developmental portrait photographer and this exhibition gives the chance to see how his different styles have evolved. Whilst it is a wonderful exhibit for lovers of portrait photography, it is also of interest to those who are interested in celebrities that have been present in our lives across this time period. The Lowry has once again brought a great photography exhibit to Manchester.

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