Beautiful Terrible: Justin Dingwall

24 May - 7 August 2021

In Beautiful Terrible, ARTCO Galerie shows new works by South African artist and photographer Justin Dingwall. Dingwall was born in Johannesburg in 1983 and is one of the most successful portrait photographers in his country. He gained international fame in 2013 with the publication of his first art photography series ALBUS, in which he portrayed people with albinism with wonderful aesthetics. By showing the "beauty of otherness", he draws attention to the social ostracism of these people, which is still prevalent in many parts of Africa today.  

In Dingwall's current project Beautiful Terrible, the artist also deals with a social issue.

According to Dingwall, the idea for Beautiful Terrible came about during South Africa's first Corona-related extreme lockdown in 2020. The enforced isolation sparked a discussion between Dingwall and his wife about how differently both, he as a man, she as a woman, perceive the isolation from society. This discrepancy in the perception of isolation prompted Dingwall to look at gender roles within modern art.

In the run-up to the project, the photographer intensively studied Pablo Picasso's biography "Creator and Destroyer", which had remained in his memory during research for earlier projects.
Picasso's openly misogynistic worldview tempted Dingwall to delve deeper into the Spaniard's world of thought. Dingwall picked up on Picasso's inspiration, which developed from his fascination with bullfighting. Using this metaphor of the "perfect fight", Dingwall, in constant dialogue with his wife, describes the everyday experiences of women in modern society.

The fascination with the figure of the matador and its trappings appeared in Dingwall's sketchbooks in earlier years. The female matador, brimming with self-confidence and strength, is. metaphor, for the constant struggles of women in society for emancipation. Here the bull and the female bullfighter are interwoven in a paradox of opposing similarities. A scenario in which the one woman can be seen as both matador and bull. The staged photographs in this series of works symbolise aspects such as: Challenge versus resistance, dominance versus submission, action versus passivity, strength versus weakness, victor versus vanquished... .