African photography

#123. Lament the passing of Ricardo Rangel. The man considered to be Mozambique’s greatest contemporary photographer died on June 11. Eleven years ago this month I first saw Rangel’s work when a friend gave me a book of African photography as a wedding present, In/Sight African Photographers, 1940 to the Present (Guggenheim). Through the book I was introduced to the work of Rangel as well as Mali’s Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibe, Cameroonian Samuel Fosso and Drum magazine’s Bob Gosani, among others.

© Ricardo Rangel, In the embrace of the night, 1970.

© Ricardo Rangel, In the embrace of the night, 1970.

The photographs in the book are evocative and captivating, many of them portraits, others capturing urban life in Africa’s cities. The images from Rangel’s series Our Nightly Bread (1960-70) have always stayed with me — black and white photos of beautiful Mozambican women in the bars and on the streets of Maputo/Lourenço Marques, an image of white sailors disembarking in the port city for a night out.

The photographs in the book poignantly capture  views of Africa still mostly unseen by the world – fed by international TV networks that prefer stock images of starving children and young boys with guns.

© Ricardo Rangel, Doorkeeper at the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Beira, 1965.

© Ricardo Rangel, Doorkeeper at the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Beira, 1965.

“I used to say to the younger photographers, photography is one of the most beautiful professions you can have. It can take you to places more strange and wonderful than you have ever imagined.” – Ricardo Rangel.

Rangel’s bio published by the Market Photo Workshop reads: “Rangel was born in Lourenço Marques (Maputo) in 1924, and started his career as a darkroom assistant during World War II. He worked as a photojournalist for a number of newspapers, including Notícias and La Tribune. In 1970 he became a founding member of Tempo, the country’s first colour news magazine.
Rangel covered the events that led up to Mozambique’s independence from Portuguese rule in 1975, and was appointed chief photographer for the Notícias in 1977. He then began training photographers for both Agência de Informação de Moçambique (AIM) and Notícias. In 1981 he became director of the weekly Domingo, and three years later was asked to establish the Centro de Formaçao Fotográfica in Maputo, a school for photography.”

* The images here are from Afronova Gallery in Newtown. For more information on the Market Photo Workshop, mail them at info@marketphotoworkshop.co.za.

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