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Art We Love: Sanges

 Thursday, 17th August, 2017

Cinematic photographer Sanges talks surrealism and the creative process. Club Art curator, Ali Hilman, gets the insider info on his inspiration and journey.

How did you develop your distinctive style and what inspires you?
 
Since an early age I’ve been fascinated by films and I wanted my photographs to have a cinematic style. While growing up I was introduced to “isms” and forms of art, and Surrealism was the one that captivated my imagination as a teenager. This influence is strongly visible in my present work.
 
Luis Bunuel’s work has inspired me throughout the years. His films Un Chien Andalou and L’Age d’Or had a big impact on me and encouraged me to further follow the surrealist path. I developed my style of photography based entirely on dream sequences and an evolving multi-layered story, creating a highly personal, imaginary cinema.
 
Some of your images involve many people in quite obscure settings. How do you plan the shoot?

After the introduction and chat with the models or actors, I pay attention to their features and mannerisms. I have to then imagine what role they would play in my composition. When I was a child, my dad always booked us the front row tickets to the opera. Seated very close behind the conductor, I witnessed how he could direct the musicians and I became fascinated with how all the actors and actresses synchronized their choreography with the music.
 
You reference Max Ernst as the source inspiration for this body of work. What specifically draws you to Ernst? 

A couple of years ago a friend gave me the great book by Max Ernst, ‘Une Semaine De Bontè’, which led me discover his amazing collage work. I immediately felt a creative impulse, which prompted me to search and create a new language of photography. In particular, Ernst struck me with the purely surreal narrative and those dreamlike characters. I tried to limit myself to extrapolating the elements of his works and then transforming them.

You only work in film; what impact does this medium have on the way you construct your work and why have you steered away from digital photography?

Because I feel it is my element. I grew up with film. I joyfully remember my uncle's lab where I tried to develop photographs and helped him print black and white. My uncle was my first inspiration to grab the camera and take my first shots.

Some of your photographs evoke images by Otto Dix, Weegee, and Egon Schiele. Are these references deliberate?
 
Yes the references are deliberate but the Gallery of Inspirers is countless. In my early childhood and adolescent years every ‘signal’ that my brain received from any artistic form instinctively relates to Edward Manet, Max Ernst, E. Hooper, Eisenstein and Hitchcock. The process is like a violent, tormented conglomerate of characters, scenes, colours, geometric forms and narratives.