I was born in London but did not learn this until much later. Thinking back to my early years growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I felt that the lives of the people around me were too quickly lost. Partly, it was simply how life would naturally have it, people passing away, or, moving away, perhaps, falling out of favour with each other, whatever the case may be, gaps were being created in close friendships and relationships. Gaps that needed filling...
I was so young and every loss became like a puzzle, it needed understanding, solving; I had to find something to escape into as any youngling would. How was I to escape and replenish the losses in my own life and in the lives of those who were still with me? Or preserve and prolong the memories of friendships lost? The society I was part of at the time was not one I wished for myself. I liked being there yet wanted to be somewhere else. Somewhere or sometime or place where the strangers you meet and the faces you liked remained with you as long as you wanted them to. I felt alone. I gradually withdrew myself and became introspective, and as I began looking inwardly, the world outside and beyond began to make sense. I grew more and more interested in humanity. I discovered many things but more importantly, I discovered how each delve would reveal something beautiful.
I remember wishing I were a tree, an oak tree, or a mountain. Standing solidly and tall, immovable, connected to everything beneath and around. Keeping the world together, affecting elemental changes and shifts in nature. A force. Thus began my journey, traversing vast landscapes, valleys and hills, yet something far closer to me beckoned. People. I realised that the deepest ache of my longings and the deepest anguish of my losses came from what I had loved the most. People. A world so vast would be empty without them.
It seemed like a lifetime had been lost imagining what was inside books. I had developed an obsession and began collecting books. I went wherever I could find books, the library, bookstores, train stations, airports, wherever, and if I could take them for myself, I did. And here's the whimsy - I did not open nor did I develop a desire to read the books, at least not in the normal sense of reading - I just wanted to own them. I felt that they had a life of their own, imbued from the world of the writer and trapped within them. A portion of their souls, their innermost selves inked, bound and stored therein. How was I to release and consume the life in the books? And whilst this question lingered on my mind, film happened... and it was immensely exciting. Everything was happening fast. What wonderful imaginations they had, these that could create such worlds, new worlds within our world. The imagined worlds as presented by the masters of the early to 20th and even to 21st century cinema captured me. I was in awe. And in the process of discovering and loving cinema, I began taking a great interest in photography. It also fascinated me and did so in a way that reminded me of books. Entire narratives were captured and stored inside photographs. Native Americans, and many cultures including the Aborigines of Australia believed photographs would steal their soul, imprisoning it within its amalgam of polyester, celluloid, salts and gelatin and in recent times CCD (digital photography) therefore they would and still refuse to be photographed. For me, photography presented a kind of discovery of the Self. In it I also found the people I loved could be captured and kept close. Photography allowed me to contemplate being able to stop time though technically that particular moment in time captured was frozen, in time. There was a truth in that, and the memories of such times, those loved and passed away or loved and lost were forever preserved. Nearly perfect.
Photography was a natural progression for me. How else was I to bring the words to life, to apply my own expression and to bring to life my imaginings? I embraced photography. It was to be my art and how I would express myself. Through it I would be able to explore and push boundaries and there are many to push.
About Mahc Beau´s Work
This Is Art Gallery is delighted to present a glimpse into Mahc Beau's career as a multi-sensory artist. A writer, perfumer and director of photography.
Photography and cinema were always an important part of Beau's life even before he had an understanding of them. As a child, he enjoyed watching foreign language movies. Notwithstanding the subtitling, he did quite enjoy the visual language of the moving image. His own practise was to keep the sound muted and watch the images move independently. However as Beau matured, he came to a certain realisation: it was not the foreign languages or the moving images that thrilled him as such, but the remote. Having the video remote in his grasp so he could pause, rewind and recapture a moment was powerful. It allowed him to relive those moments he'd seen in the movies and wondered if this was a possibility in life to relive moments, beautiful moments. This fascinated him. And this fascination to relive such beautiful moments inspired him into becoming a photographer. Thinking back, Beau saw the video remote control as being his first camera.
Now in his collective work for more than a decade, Beau creates images that offer the viewer a visual experience of adventure, travel, romance, mystery, beauty, solitude and dialogue. He has an innovative and experimental approach to photography. Knowingly avant-garde, his works seek to strip accepted meaning and custom in the profession; he is neither a fashion nor a commercial photographer. In his works, Beau prefers to be a storyteller and to create narratives with his images. His intrinsic understanding of light and colours has been crucial in helping him create poetic and cinematic moods when creating photographs. He likes bridging colours and playing with light whether on the skin of his subjects, or on their clothing and surroundings. He will often defer from predictable and easier options where uniformity is easy to achieve and there are no mysteries to find or create. He opts for bigger challenges in order to achieve a rare uniformity, like in a coloured photoshoot where different array of colours would require systematic arrangement in order to achieve a desired harmony. A perfect picture to Beau is one that is harmonious and silently musical. 'Such pictures', he describes, 'are not so silent but are startling echoes of a beautiful sound. You can see what is hidden and feel what was felt if you look at them long enough.'
Beau is not restricted by any pretences nor conventions in photography. 'Art should not imprison us,' he says. 'We should be free to express our ideas and vision insofar as this freedom is used in service to others and can promote worthy ideals - this is what art is. Art should inspire and intrigue, elevate and fascinate, mesmerise and challenge us. It should make us feel alive and instil a sense of wonder. It should be multidimensional. It should be eclectic. It should reflect the variety of life's vicissitudes with meaningful aesthetics.'
Though beautiful images do deserve our full attention, he feels they are imprisoned in the world of books and magazines where they are oft used as subordinates to enhance the texts. In Beau's body of work, the images and texts are symbiotic, as two separate worlds - the worlds of photography and typography, separate but together with the disjuncture that separates them replaced with a romantic bridge of innovation. The images and accompanying text are individually framed; this refer separation is not hierarchical. His pairing of images and narratives and visuals and sound is inspired from his practice as a relationship and life coach. This practise helped mend broken hearts and reconciled distances between lovers and friends.
In the piece "Frame Of My Mind," Beau uses the contrasts of sunlight and dark shadows as visual representatives for the pages of his mind and invites the viewer to read his private and most intimate thoughts.
In his collage "On My Best Behaviour: In Her Shoes", he uses comedy to illustrate the lessons and truths that have helped shape his outlook and understanding of love.
His prints are signed, dated and are limited edition.
Also, driven by his desire to tell stories and relive memories, Mahc Beau was inspired to experiment with trapping essences and becoming a perfumer, to explore the link between our visual cortex and olfaction, and trigger fond memories. Beau uses a selection of sublime candle fragrances as narrative tools, charting the stories of his youth, of intimate moments, of discovering passion and falling in love in London's dance halls and Jazz joints.