Hugo A Bernatzik

Hugo a Bernatzik

Hugo A Bernatzik ventured into Africa nearly 80 years ago equipped with a large cumbersome plate camera and a dogged inquisitiveness. He proceeded to create a set of the most perfect documents of a paradise soon to be lost to the onslaught of the 20th century. Although well known as an ethnographer in his lifetime, Bernatzik's photographs drifted into obscurity and their rediscovery is unquestionably one of the most important photographic finds in recent years. Michael Hoppen Gallery is proud to present a rare opportunity to view this extraordinary work face to face for the first time in the United Kingdom.

In 1927 Bernatzik first travelled to southern Sudan, at the time one of the remotest places in Africa. Situated at the confluence of several great rivers the land was a sea of swamps and grasses, only accessible by the occasional river steamer. Working at fever pitch with his awkward camera in this inhospitable environment he vividly captured the people he encountered. Although Bernatzik's work was technically cutting edge it was dismissed by his contemporary academics as ‘artistic photography'. However, the legacy of Bernatzik's expeditions has outlived his more scientific contemporaries. His genuine interest in the ‘real' people and their way of life resulted in images compelling enough to make us not only regret what has been lost but to also wonder at what he saved.