Abdel Queta Tavares uses his portraiture - often of himself - to tell various narratives ranging from the deeply personal to the largely human and accessible. Best known for his iconic red hat(s), below them is a mind deeply attuned to the fragility and strengths of our nature.
Back in 2019, Compulsive Contents wrote an extensive article on Tavares, whose emerging influence in the creative and artistic landscape was becoming more and more obvious. It was in that same year the photographer appeared at Festival Iminente, creating a very unique series of photographs displayed in backlit advertising boards.
In the video featured here, shot and edited by Expanding Roots, we get an exclusive and insightful interview with the artist, whose commitment to originality has made him a recognisable figure. Spotted in his adopted home of London wearing the hat, the Guinea-Bissau native was shot by photographer David Cantor in what went on to becoming an award-winning portrait.
This exchange undoubtedly ignited something within the young artist who saw the potential not only of photography, but of himself. Just as Karl Ove Knausgaard writes his frank autobiographies, Tavares explores every facet of his own being through the self-portraits he has become best known for.
In an age of shameless self-promotion, as we so often sigh at seeing as we scroll through our Instagram feeds, Tavares offers a new depth to the selfie, both aesthetically and philosophically. Each image is posed and curated with deep poetic expression, a departure from the flimsy efforts that have become the norm.
As the passage of time moves forward, we can see various layers begin to develop and diminish. Just as he recalls once being a shy young boy in a big city, too embarassed to wear the big red hat, we can see a maturity develop though his photographs too, documenting his journey to embracing himself in real-time.
Naturally, the individual here is the focal point of his images. Yet, not all of the photographs he creates are of himself. Still, when he captures others, Tavares does so with a type of guile and understanding as if it was. It's possible that, through such meditative time spent understanding himself, he has gained insights into the core of the human.
Staged with the right balance of narrative and natural, Tavares' images are a captivating insight into the character who has, by default of making himself the star, developed an interesting air of mystique - one explored and expounded upon in his art.
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