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January 31, 2008
Armed with only a hand-held 35mm film camera, and using available artificial light, Russian photographer Alexei Vassiliev has created a series of stunning portraits of anonymous 21st century urban dwellers. A very slow shutter speed allows him to capture rich colors and blurred human gestures to create iconic images that evoke the essence of modern humanity without much of the detail.
Each image seems to speak of a different near-archetypal story to everyone who experiences them. Some see angels or auras or mythic mother-goddess figures. Others see souls trapped in a man-made cage and fluttering to escape. Others talk of Francis Bacon and the plight of 21st century life, or about the elusive similarities between these images and many 19th century painted portraits.
Without exception, every person at the December opening of Vassiliev's solo show in Paris wanted to talk about what they were seeing in his blurred, vibrant images.
Installation view of a solo show of Alexei Vassiliev's work, Paris, December 2007
Lens Culture is pleased to present a portfolio of 24 images by Vassiliev, made over the course of 5 years. Please do yourself a favor and spend some time with these uncommonly powerful photographic portraits. There is no digital trickery or manipulation here, just light, film, color, and the convergence of anonymous encounters in an anonymous man-made urban environment.
Photographer Alexei Vassiliev, with one of his anonymous portraits, Paris 2007