O'Born Contemporary


Edward Gajdel

Solo Exhibition

August 29 – October 3, 2009


Edward Gajdel is a master of aesthetic studio-based photography, unparalleled in his ability to create an image that encompasses the rapture and joy of a personal vision that is expressed with attention to the smallest detail. His solo show at OBC is a survey of over three decades of work. Selected excerpts from his extensive practice comprise this tour de force exhibition - the entire oeuvre is contextualized by Gajdel's spiritual mantra as expressed through his dedication to the driving forces of beauty, power, and grace. His recent studio work encompasses the glorious physicality of the human body, his object-based still life series presents a narrative of love and loss, and a survey of celebrated Canadian portraits reveal a mastery that remains uncontested.

Gajdel has spent a significant portion of his career photographing celebrities. He is a genius at distilling the harried and complicated lives of celebrities, their handlers, and all of the baggage that fame entails into extraordinarily beautiful portraits that speak of an essence of their human character. His subjects radiate ease at being who they are in the presence of his camera. For decades Gajdel's work has taken us through the gamut: the beautiful and glamorous, the famous, the notorious, the elegant and the fashionable. We will be working on publishing a monograph of these images in the months ahead. There are simply too many superb portraits in Gajdel's archive to choose, and so our selection for this exhibition focuses on Canadian celebrities, a group of ten who run the gamut from those who make us think, those who inspire us in movies and music, to those who make us laugh. These portraits are immediately recognizable both for Gajdel's unmistakable eye and his internationally renowned subjects who gave so fully and willingly of themselves to his quest.

In addition to the portraits we are also showing excerpts from his 2008 series, 'document'. These black and white large-scale Polaroid photographs are a manifestation of turning the camera inward, reflecting on Gajdel's own journey and celebrating those who have passed through his life in both body and spirit. The photographs he has made represent the beginnings of an archive of inanimate objects: an accordion, a piece of marbled meat tied with a string and pierced to the core by a sharp knife, a simple glass of water, the remains of a meal, all the objects are specific to those who have borne a spiritual affect and had an effect on Gajdel's life. Yet these objects speak to photographer and viewer alike, they are universally understood in the same way that one does not need to know all of the signs and symbols in 17th century still life paintings to understand that they are paintings about perfection and the eventual demise that is embedded within being human, and being mortal.

Finally, we have selected three images from an ongoing untitled project. Gajdel's new studio photographs are a record of the physical dialogue between the nude human body and a whale's bone. Disarmingly and deceptively calm in tone, erotic and spiritual at the same time, they are built upon the glorious physicality of the participants who have risen to the challenge of balancing human strength against an archaic object of such massive scale.