Pieter Hugo

South Africa 1976


Pieter Hugo
Pieter Hugo
South Africa
April 30, 2017

Pieter Hugo is a South-African portrait and documentary photographer, recognized for capturing images of the continent’s marginalized peoples, including the blind, albinos, and AIDS victims in their coffins, all carrying strange and lingering power. He is a self-taught photographer, with no formal education, primary because there wasn’t any space where one would get an education about theory and history of photography in Cape Town. After finishing high school, he went straight into becoming a practicing photographer, whether it was commercial work or editorial work or working as a photojournalist. Hugo initially worked in the film industry in Cape Town, before spending two years in Italy at Fabrica, a research center for artists.

Hugo directed his attention to marginalized groups of people in Africa

hugo is on view at gallery in new york with series milo yossi home from 2013
Pieter Hugo – Portrait 16, South Africa, 2016

Elements of a Photographic Metaphor

As a white South African photographer, Pieter Hugo is acutely aware of the problems of representation that hover around his work, which merges documentary, portraiture, still life and landscape. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of South African society and the legacy of apartheid casts a long shadow. For him, documentary photography is a type of ecstatic experience where one looks at the pictures and one experiences truth, even if it’s not the truth of an accountant. Hugo understands that a photographic metaphor, a way of describing something through reference to something else, is created as much by the elements inside the frame of the image itself as by the carefully chosen distance, the so-called critical zone, from the photographer’s lens to his subject. It is within this zone that Hugo maneuvers through the muddy waters of political engagement, documentary responsibility, and the relationship of these to his own aesthetic.

Hugo’s work can be seen in important exhibitions and collections such as MoMA, the MET, the V&A, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the J Paul Getty Museum

contact gallery for new news about hugos home town
Pieter Hugo – Portrait 19, South Africa, 2016

Making us Stop Looking Aside

Hugo traveled extensively to countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Liberia, photographing along this way gang members, taxi washers, AIDS victims, albinos, and the blind. His first major photo collection Looking Aside consisted of a collection of portraits of people whose appearance makes us look aside, his subjects including the blind, people with albinism, the aged, his family and himself. Each man, woman, and child pose in a sterile studio setting, under crisp light against a blank background. The uniformity of his approach puts sole emphasis on their physical appearance.

Looking directly at people to confront ourselves and our preconceptions with unnecessary prejudices

follow milo yossi news for recent photo on view at gallery 2013 in new york
Pieter Hugo – Looking Aside, 2003-2006

Between Love and Cruelty in Relationship to Wild Animals

Hugo’s most well-known series, The Hyena and Other Men, was executed between 2005 and 2007, and was later published as a monograph. The series depicts a group of traveling performers from Lagos, Nigeria, who use wild animals as a part of their act. Hugo traveled with the group for 2 years to capture images of the animal handlers and the intriguing love-hate relationship between them and the wild animals. There are times when the men are affectionate to the wild animals while cruel and abusive at other times. The work is characterized by stark, graphic depiction of its subject matter.

Arresting and intimate approach to portraying traveling performers from Lago, Nigeria

hyena and other
Pieter Hugo – The Hyena and Other Men, 2008

Researching the Conflict Heritage

He has also photographed Rwandan landscapes, scavengers at a toxic dump in Ghana and the Nollywood film industry. He now turns his attention to his still-troubled homeland, with intriguing and sometimes provocative results. His recent series KIN deals with the identification and sense of belonging in South Africa, which is always connected to the idea of conflict. Pursuing the research further in this direction, in 2016 he created the series 1994, comprising portraits of children born after 1994 in South Africa and Rwanda who live in a post-revolutionary era because serious historical events took place during 1994 in both countries.

Pieter Hugo lives and works in Cape Town.

Featured image: Pieter Hugo – Self Portrait.
All images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
20161994Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2016In FocusNational Portrait Gallery, London, United KingdomSolo
2015Portraits: From the unsaid to the un-deadInstitute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, MauritiusSolo
2014KinFundació Foto Colectania, Barcelona, SpainSolo
2014KinCokkie Snoei Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2014Rwanda 20 YearsThe Hague, The NetherlandsSolo
2014This Must Be the PlaceFundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, PortugalSolo
2014This Must Be the PlaceCentro Atlántico De Arte Moderno, Las Palmas, Canary IslandsSolo
2014ChromaStevenson, Cape TownGroup
2014Prospect.3: Notes for Now (P.3)New Orleans Biennial, USAGroup
2014T.R.I.P. Travel Routes In PhotographyTerme di Diocleziano, RomeGroup
2014AnimalisFundación Forvm per la Fotografia, Tarragona, SpainGroup
2014From Sitting to Selfie: 300 years of South African PortraitsStandard Bank Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2014Between Subject and Object: Human remains at the interface of art and scienceMichaelis Galleries, University of Cape Town, Souh AfricaGroup
2014Here AfricaChˆteau de Penthes, Geneve-Pregny, SwitzerlandGroup
2014Present TenseGaleria Municipal Almeida Garrett, Porto, PortugalGroup
2014Apartheid and AfterHuis Marseille, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2014Public Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South AfricaYerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USAGroup
2013KinStevenson Gallery, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South AfricaSolo
2013KinYossi Milo Gallery, New York, USASolo
2013This Must Be the PlaceLudwig Museum, Budapest, HungarySolo
2013This Must Be the PlaceFotografiska Museum, Stockholm, SwedenSolo
2013There's a Place in Hell for Me and My FriendsLes Rencontres d'Arles festival, Arles, FranceSolo
2013Art and Textile: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the PresentKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, GermanyGroup
2013Present TenseFundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2013Present TenseFundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, FranceGroup
2013Transition: Social LandscapeLes Rencontres d'Arles festival, Arles, FranceGroup
2013Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African ArchiveThe Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm, GermanyGroup
2013The Glorious Rise and Fall ... (and so on)Groot Ziekengasthuis, 's-Hertogenbosch, The NetherlandsGroup
2013Some Views of AfricaStudio la Città di Verona, ItalyGroup
2013Either – OrNikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, DenmarkGroup
2013Landmark: The Fields of PhotographySomerset House, London, United KingdomGroup
2013Nothing to Declare?Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2013The Loom of the LandStevenson, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2012This Must Be the PlaceThe Hague Museum of Photography, The Netherlands Solo
2012This Must Be the PlaceMusée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland Solo
2012This Must Be the PlaceStimultania Photographic Centre, Strasbourg, FranceSolo
2012There's a Place in Hell for Me and My FriendsExtraspazio, Rome, ItalySolo
2012NollywoodPataka, Porirua, Wellington, New ZealandSolo
2012Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive Part II: Contemporary ReconfigurationsWalther Collection Project Space, New York, USAGroup
2012Africa: Photographs and video from the Martin Margulies CollectionBob Rauschenberg Gallery, Edison State College, Florida, USAGroup
2012Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012The Photographers Gallery, London, United KingdomGroup
2012Transitions - Social Landscape ProjectMarket Photo Workshop, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2012Africa, There and BackFolkwang Museum, Essen, GermanyGroup
2012Photography of The Rainbow NationMuseum Beelden aan Zee, The Hague, The NetherlandsGroup
2012Qui Vive?3rd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow, RussiaGroup
2012International Art ExhibitionRwesero Arts Museum, Nyanza, RwandaGroup
2012Moscow PhotobiennaleMoscow Multimedia Art Museum, RussiaGroup
2012Lima BiennaleLima, PeruGroup
2011Permanent ErrorYossi Milo Gallery, New York, USASolo
2011Permanent ErrorCokkie Snoei, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2011Permanent ErrorContactPhotography Festival, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2011Permanent ErrorMAXXI - National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome, ItalySolo
2011NollywoodDunedin Public Art Gallery, New ZealandSolo
2011NollywoodTe Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland, New ZealandSolo
2011NollywoodThéâtre de La Ville, Paris, FranceSolo
2011What we talk about when we talk about loveStevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2011Paraty em Foco photography festivalBrazilGroup
2011Urban LivesShoshana Wayne Gallery, California, USAGroup
2011All CannibalsMe Collectors Room, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2011Beguiling: The Self and the SubjectIrma Stern Museum, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2011Contact Photography FestivalToronto, CanadaGroup
2011Il corpo metafora di un'esperienzaCIAC Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea, Foligno, ItalyGroup
2011Lens: Fractions of Contemporary Photography and Video in South AfricaStellenbosch University Art Museum, Stellenbosch, South AfricaGroup
2011ARS 11Kiasma, Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
2011Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African PhotographyV&A Museum, London, United KingdomGroup
2011Possible Cities: Africa in Photography and VideoCantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College, Pennsylvania, USAGroup
2011The Eye is a Lonely Hunter: Images of HumankindFotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, GermanyGroup
2011The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds after 1989ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, GermanyGroup
2011For a Sustainable WorldLes Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial, MaliGroup
2010Permanent ErrorMichael Stevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2010NollywoodInstitute of Modern Art, Brisbane, AustraliaSolo
2010The Hyena and Other MenPhotographic Centre Peri, Turku, FinlandSolo
2010On Reality and Other StoriesForest Centre Culturel, BRASS, Brussels, BelgiumSolo
2010NollywoodShoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, USASolo
2010On Reality and Other StoriesLe Chateau d'Eau, Toulouse, FranceSolo
2010Pieter HugoColette, Paris, FranceSolo
2010The Hyena and Other MenHerzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, IsraelSolo
2010NollywoodYossi Milo Gallery, New York, USASolo
2010NollywoodCokkie Snoei Gallery, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2010BE PREPAREDCokkie Snoei Gallery, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2010NollywoodGreenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, AustraliaSolo
2010Breaking News: Contemporary photography from the Middle East and AfricaFondazione Cassa di Risparmio Provincia di Modena, ItalyGroup
2010Fototage TrierBerlin, GermanyGroup
2010A Celebration of 20 YearsHereford Photo Festival, Belfast, IrelandGroup
2010Angkor Photo FestivalSiem Reap, CambodiaGroup
2010Disquieting ImagesTriennale di Milano, ItalyGroup
2010PEEKABOO: Current South AfricaTennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
2010This is Our TimeMichael Stevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2010Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social IdentityWalther Collection, Neu-Ulm, GermanyGroup
2010After A, Photo Notes on South AfricaAtri Reportage Festival, Atri, ItalyGroup
2010Lie of the LandIziko Old Town House Museum, Cape TownGroup
2010Lie of the LandSanlam Gallery, Bellville, South AfricaGroup
20101910-2010: From Pierneef to GugulectiveIziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2010Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African artFfotogallery, Cardiff, United KingdomGroup
2010HalakashaStandard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2010Sharon Stone in AbujaLocation One, New York, USAGroup
2010CounterlivesAckland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USAGroup
2010Room for JusticeAvocats Sans Frontières, Antwerp Court House, BelgiumGroup
2009NollywoodGalleria Extraspazio, Rome, ItalySolo
2009Pieter Hugo: Selected WorksTinglado 2, Tarragona, SpainSolo
2009NollywoodAustralian Centre for Photography, Sydney, AustraliaSolo
2009NollywoodMichael Stevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2009Creating Identity: Portraits today21c Museum, Louisville, USAGroup
2009A Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African artDjanogly Gallery, Nottingham, United KingdomGroup
2009The Endless RenaissanceBass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, USAGroup
2009AnimalismNational Media Museum, Bradford, United KingdomGroup
2009Three StoriesCentre National de l'Audiovisuel, LuxembourgGroup
2009Unbounded: New Art for a New CenturyThe Newark Museum, New Jersey, USAGroup
2009Photo Beijing, ChinaGroup
2009Les Rencontres de Bamako Biennial of African photographyMaliGroup
2009StigmataMusée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
2009reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowHoffman Gallery, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, ORGroup
2009reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowAlbin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USAGroup
2008The Hyena and Other MenFoam Photography Museum, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2008God's Time is the BestCokkie Snoei Gallery, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsSolo
2008PortraitsFfotogallery, Cardiff, United KingdomSolo
2008PortraitsOpen Eye Gallery, Liverpool, United KingdomSolo
2008NollywoodWarren Siebrits, Johannesburg, South AfricaSolo
2008WORKS 2002-2007Galerie Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva, SwitzerlandSolo
2008A Look AwayKuckei + Kuckei, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2008Room for JusticePalais de Justice, BrusselsGroup
2008Room for JusticeLes Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, FranceGroup
2008Street & Studio: An urban history of photographyTate Modern, London, United KingdomGroup
2008The Tropics: Views from the Middle of the GlobeBerliner Festspiele, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2008Make Art - Stop AIDSFowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2008Presumed Innocence: Photographic perspectives of childrenDeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Massachusetts, USAGroup
2008reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowDeVos Art Museum, Marquette, MIGroup
2008reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowFort Collins Museum of Contemporary ArtGroup
2008reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowMiami Dade Community College, Florida, USAGroup
2007The Hyena and Other MenYossi Milo Gallery, New York, USASolo
2007Messina – MusinaExtraspazio, Rome, ItalySolo
2007Messina – Musina Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 exhibitionMonument Gallery, GrahamstownSolo
2007Messina – Musina Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 exhibitionNelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Port Elizabeth Solo
2007Messina – Musina Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 exhibitionDurban Art Gallery, DurbanSolo
2007Messina – Musina Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 exhibitionOliewenhuis Art Museum, BloemfonteinSolo
2007Messina – Musina Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 exhibitionStandard Bank Gallery, JohannesburgSolo
2007Messina – Musina Standard Bank Young Artist 2009 exhibitionIziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2007Looking AsideStephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles, USASolo
2007Lumo '07 - us7th International Triennial of Photography, FinlandGroup
2007Contemporary Photography from South Africa - Part 1Hereford Photography Festival, Hereford, United KingdomGroup
2007An Atlas of EventsCalouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2007In Your FaceGalerie Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva, SwitzerlandGroup
2007Family RelationWarren Siebrits, Johannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2007Faccia A Faccia: Il nouvo ritratto fotograficoFORMA, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milan, ItalyGroup
2007Reality Check: Contemporary Art photography from South Africa 2007Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2007reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowArtInstitute of Boston, MassachusettsGroup
2007reGeneration: 50 Photographers of TomorrowArtAlyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, USAGroup
2006PresenceMichael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2006Looking AsideWarren Siebrits Contemporary, Johannesburg, South AfricaSolo
2006PresenceGalerie Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva, SwitzerlandSolo
2006South African Art NowMichael Stevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2006How to Live Together27th São Paulo Biennale, BrazilGroup
2006How to Live TogetherMuseo de Arte Contemporaneo de Santiago, ChileGroup
2006Street: Behind the ClichéWitte de With, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
2006Pingyao International Photographic FestivalChinaGroup
2006Tour - Cape Town to MiamiHilger Contemporary, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2006Black, Brown and WhiteKunsthalle Wien, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2006Black, Brown and WhiteCentre Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
2006Nie MeerDe Warande, Turnhout, BelgiumGroup
2006Rivers of SufferingBenton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, USAGroup
2005re:Generation: 50 Photographers of TomorrowMusée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland Group
2005re:Generation: 50 Photographers of TomorrowAperture Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2004The Albino ProjectFabrica Features, Lisbon, PortugalSolo
2004The Albino ProjectMuseum of Modern Art, Rome, ItalySolo
2004Rwanda 2004: Partial Remains and Personal AffectsMichael Stevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2003Staged Realities - The Studio in African PhotographyMichael Stevenson, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2003From Chaos to Order and BackDDD Gallery, Osaka Group
2003From Chaos to Order and BackGinza Graphic Gallery, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2002MarginThe Cold Room Photographic Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2002Positions of South African Photography – TodayOMC Galerie, Düsseldorf, GermanyGroup
2001New South African ArtJAK Gallery, London, United KingdomGroup