portraits by Carla Borel

11 February – 30 May 2020
private view 10 February, 6-8pm

Striking and intimate male portraits by photographer Carla Borel, Homme Libre draws on themes of identity and community, centring around the idea of masculinity seen from a female perspective.

The sitters are unified by the same white T-shirt bearing an illustration of a sailor and Baudelaire quote: Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer! (free man, always you will cherish the sea!).

Each of the men is a close friend or acquaintance of mine. Straight, gay, trans, from various professions and backgrounds, each has an edge of some sort that made them very interesting to photograph, be it in stance and attitude, an air of mystery and romance, strength and vulnerability. – Carla Borel

One roll of 24 exposure film is used for each sitter, shot entirely outside Borel’s studio in Bethnal Green, East London. The series includes portraits of Christopher Breward (Director of National Museums of Scotland from April 2020), novelist & theatre director Neil Bartlett, and festival regular, The Times dance critic Donald Hutera.

Carla Borel is a London-based photographer, focusing on portraiture with a love of analogue processes. Her work addresses themes of transience, identity, community, isolation and loneliness. In Homme Libre, Borel aims to examine her relationships with the opposite sex, how she communicates and connects on platonic and romantic levels, and how this translates in her portraits.

She is known for her Stillsoho project, a series of black and white portraits of friends and lovers set in the landscape of a disappearing London. She is also known for her photographs of internationally renowned contemporary artists including Susan Hiller, Sean Scully, John Stezaker, Ann-Marie James, Boo Saville, Neil Libbert and Hugo Wilson.

Carla was born in Paris and was raised in Las Vegas and a Hampshire village. Her previous careers have included stints as a croupier in Mayfair casinos and the cruise ships; a bar tender at the French house pub in Soho; production assistant to legendary advertising photographer John Claridge; a gallery girl in London’s art world, working with influential curator Emma Dexter at Timothy Taylor Gallery; and archive assistant to Beat Generation expert and cultural historian, Barry Miles.

Her work has been published in AnOther Man, Harper’s Bazaar, German Vogue, L’Uomo Vogue, Port, Town, Elephant, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the New York Times and Artforum. She has exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer show, 2016, and was one of the 209 female photographers to photograph female MPs for the project 209 Women, celebrating the centenary of some women being given the right to vote. This project was shown at Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 2019.

for more information visit www.carlaborel.co.uk & follow @misscarlaborel on Instagram

Jacob © Carla Borel