Guinean photographer Abdel Quetta Tavares inaugurates on Friday his first solo exhibition at the Underdogs gallery in Lisbon, made up of only portraits, most of whom were strangers on the streets of London and Lisbon.
A self-taught photographer, Abdel Queta Tavares, 27, currently living in London, is portrayed in photographs by other people. “For these people to be like me, in quotation marks, in the photograph, I decide to give them my clothes to wear. That is why many people when they see the photographs recognize immediately – ‘this is Abdel’ – even without the red hat, recognize for styling and colours as well, “he said about the inauguration of the” Nha Fala “show.
The red hat, which he began to use about eight years ago while still living in Lisbon, became a trademark image of the young man who awakened to photography in 2010 when he bought a “little machine” and made self-portraits which he edited and shared on social networks.
“People liked and commented, asked which camera they used and who had taken the pictures,” he recalled, explaining that at that time he began “to have more passion for art, for fashion, for photography“.
The comments of the social networks served as an impetus to begin to photograph people who inspire him, to “give voice to these people“.
“Most of the people I photograph are people I do not know, we crossed the street,” he said, sharing that when he addresses them because he felt “a click“, “they think it’s strange.”
The process is easy and fast – Abdel sees a person, talks to her and then marks the photo shoot.
The portraits that are exhibited in Underdogs were made “between London and Lisbon“, but as “they have many colours, it seems that they were taken in a place with tropical climate“. “The way people dress, they do not look like Europe,” he said, confiding that he does what goes “in his head“, what “comes out of his soul“.
‘Nha Fala’, an expression in Creole that gives a name to the exhibition, means in Portuguese ‘my voice’, and this is what the portraits show, the voice of Abdel Queta Tavares, who always “dreamed of being able to make an exhibition one day “in order to show your work.
To achieve this dream “is very good because it is not easy to be an artist,” he said, visibly moved, remembering that when it started, still in Lisbon, “it was a bit difficult.”
“I’m very happy and very proud of myself,” said the photographer, who went to London three years ago, where he came in with the right foot “.
The Underdogs gallery, at 56 Fernando Palha Street, is one of the faces of the Underdogs cultural platform, founded in 2010, which is divided between public art, paintings on the city walls, exhibitions inside doors and the production of original artistic editions.
At first glance, it may seem that “Nha Fala” does not fit into the kind of exhibitions that the gallery usually hosts, but the director of the gallery, Raul Carvalho, explains that this is not so.
Admitting that photography is a technique that the gallery does not usually “explore much“, although it has already hosted a collective show in 2013, Raul Carvalho points out that “this is an interesting question of exploring a new media.”
In addition, the official believes that the work of Abdel Queta Tavares “fits” in the gallery, “because it goes in the direction of what is the Underdogs platform.” “We work with urban-inspired artists and Abdel’s work is truly that,” he said.
“Nha Fala“, free admission, will be available until March 30.