This portraiture is something of a phenomenon – the gentle play of darkness and light on overwhelmingly beautiful models is hard to turn away from. ‘Dark Paradise’ was shot in Cape Town in an underground bomb shelter built after the the first world war – the walls are stained with over a hundred of years of ageing and they create a striking backdrop for his elegant subjects, saturated with colour and sensuality.
There is no doubt this photographer has extraordinary technique and a pitch perfect eye!
Krisjan Rossouw is a self-taught South African photographer. Based in Cape Town where he was born and raised, he has been shooting professionally since 2009. Dark Paradise is his debut solo exhibition. The project was shot over a period of two and a half years in Cape Town and features subjects from Ghana, Jamaica, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.
A Limited Edition Series of Photographic Nudes 2010 – 2013
Exploring the intrinsic beauty and fragility of nature. Photographic studies fusing a reflection of African beauty and botany in a gentle play of darkness and light.
Tell us about your first exhibition: Dark Paradise.
The idea evolved from experimentation. I didn’t have access to professional lighting so I started experimenting with smaller light sources—from singular tungsten lamps to LED torches. It then became a process of layering and highlighting, finding contrasts I thought worked. Since then I have accumulated a fair amount of traditional lighting equipment, but I haven’t used it for the series. I still prefer the simplicity and naiveté of that original play of light.
It was shot over a long time?
Yes, two and a half years—and in an underground bomb shelter. The cottage I lived in, in Sea Point, was built in 1902 to house English lieutenants stationed here in Cape Town after World War 1. It was originally just one floor, but had an entire basement bunker that ran under the house. I just couldn’t resist shooting against those walls, stained by over a hundred years of ageing.
And just a little bit more about yourself…
I live and work in Cape Town. It’s beautiful here. I like to run up mountains in my old army boots, or eat breakfasts in little-known places in the city. I like DVD box sets if they’re interesting. I don’t like books if they’re not. I like weekends in small towns. I love the rain, especially when it wakes me in the middle of the night. I say a lot of silly things. I cry in sad movies and laugh too loudly in funny ones. I like people who haven’t forgotten how to laugh. I don’t think I’m ever really going to grow up. I’m totally okay with that. I don’t think anyone should have to.