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Pieter Hugo - A personal vision of the pioneering spirit of man

  24 October 2012     Archived

For the first time in South African auction history a seminal work by well-known South African photographer Pieter Hugo is coming under the hammer at Strauss & Companys 12 November auction at the Johannesburg Country Club in Woodmead.

Sought after by international and local collectors alike Hugo’s photograph, Mallum Umaru Ahmadu with Amita, Abjuba, Nigeria is part of his Hyena and Other Men series which were shot in Nigeria in 2005. He maintained his relationship with the group and returned for a follow up shoot in 2007.

Hugo is a self-taught photographer who picked up his first camera at the age of ten – the first image he ever developed was that of a homeless person. His social awareness and wry gaze remain an integral part of his work. In the Hyena and Other Men series, he averts his gaze from the abject poverty and seeming hopelessness endemic to contemporary Nigerian society and rather focuses on the positive ingenuity and inventive nature inherent in the human spirit.

In Hugo’s own words it is the “paradoxical relationship that the handlers have with their animals – sometimes doting and affectionate, sometimes brutal and cruel” that interests the artist and renders images that, to a large extent, capture the zeitgeist of contemporary African society.

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