Surrealist photographer David Uzochukwu debuts new piece, talks working with FKA twigs and bucking boundaries
By Erin White
November 8, 2017
Last week, AFROPUNK had the chance to touch base with surrealist photographer David Uzochukwu about his work and upcoming showing at Also Known As Africa in Paris, Nov. 10-12. With no formal training, Uzochukwu’s eye and imagination seem to create images free of conventional norms and boundaries, with an emphasis on vulnerability and wonder.
Currently based in Vienna, David is studying to earn his B.A. in philosophy. While some might see that as a departure from his photography, during our Q&A it became clear that the philosophical is very much relevant in the young artist’s work, which bucks against the boundaries of realism, forging its own in-between of the bewitching and ethereal.
Uzochukwu’s beautiful photography has been featured in campaigns by Nike, FKA twigs, Dazed Digital, and many more.
Ahead of his exhibition at AKAA, David has shared a previously unseen piece with us, too. Check out an exclusive preview of the piece and read our interview with David, below.
Texture plays a pivotal role in your work, how do you consider it during your creative process?
I like natural repetitive structures that occupy the eye, but let the subject stand out. Landscapes and organic textures have a character on their own that can really support a mood. So the question is always – what environment doesn’t distract from, but add to what I want to say?
You describe your work as “slightly surreal”. And magically, so. Which artists in other mediums do you draw inspiration from?
Currently, I’m obsessing over some installation work by Ólafur Elíasson. I like how he blends the real with the artificial, nature with technology. FKA twigs always seems like she’s performing from the future, somewhere between archaic rituals and flickering holograms. And I deeply relate to how Caspar David Friedrich painted landscapes and people in them. I’m learning a lot about how I project emotions onto nature from his work.
As otherworldly as some of your photographers are, there’s something relatable and comforting about them to me. How do you feel about the body of work being shown at AKAA?
I’m glad! The images at AKAA were all born out of pivotal moments of my last few years, the character shaping type. The more personal a confession is, the likelier it becomes that someone can see their self reflected in it.
Both your editorial and personal work are distinct, but bound by such a cohesive style, how to do filter or adjust your aesthetic for editorial/commercial work?
Most of the time for me, commissioned work has been a collaborative effort. It’s about finding common ground with other people, and everyone putting in a piece of their heart to create something that no one involved could have produced on their own. My visual world doesn’t change any further than it must to accommodate others in it. In that way, commissioned work is still personal work.
Which artists are you excited to see at AKAA?