“Tired of this world, all the good that we do
Never seems to get through, it’s a shame
We’ve pleaded for change but the wars carry on
Whether you’re weak or strong, don’t you know?
I can change, you can change
Everything wrong with our lives
We can change all of our lives”
This song by Julian Lennon, released in 2011, serves as a poignant prelude to his recent photography exhibit “Horizon,” at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in Chelsea, which travels worldwide thereafter. A musician, a photographer and a philanthropist, Lennon is deeply committed to the well-being of all species and the health of our planet, and promotes several endeavors through his organization White Feather Foundation. I had written about Julian Lennon back in 2010, when we helped launch his debut photography exhibit “Timeless” in New York. No doubt the undercurrents of Julian’s journey in life, as the first son of one of the most admired and tragically lost artists on the planet, John Lennon, led him to a fair share of soul-searching. Combine that with a heart full of artistic skill, poetic yearning, empathy and compassion, and what we have in Julian is a truly multidisciplinary artist whose connection with the world touches sundry chords.
Born in Liverpool, England, Julian Lennon began his artistic trajectory at a young age, with an inherent talent for playing musical instruments. As an observer of life in all its forms, Julian developed his personal expression through such mediums as music, acting and documentary filmmaking. In 2007, the door opened to yet another, photography, as Julian captured images during a musical tour for his half-brother, Sean. “Timeless,” his first photo exhibition, staged in Manhattan in September 2010, debuted Julian’s considerable talents behind the camera, as seen in photographs of Sean Lennon, U2 and his painterly landscapes. His ability to immortalize moments of intimacy and introspection is perhaps best captured in his portraits of Bono and Princess Charlene of Monaco.
The principal goal behind Lennon’s latest series, “Horizon,” is to marry photography with humanitarian efforts. “I have always felt that I have observed life in a different way than others, probably because my life has always been very different than most,” says Julian. His attuned worldview recently led him to see firsthand the results of a Charity: Water and the White Feather Foundation initiative, bringing critically needed clean drinking water to parts of Africa. During these travels through Kenya and Ethiopia, Julian captured a wide variety of images, with the intention of inspiring viewers to learn about unique indigenous cultures and to help raise awareness of their plights. Its signature image, “Horizon,” juxtaposes man and nature in a meditative solo walk upon a majestic mountaintop. The beauty of landscape shots like “Follow” find a complement in the humanity of others, among them: “Reverence,” with a group of tribal elders focused intently, during a community gathering, to discuss clean water and their environment; and “Hope,” a bright-eyed Ethiopian child, with a wise, yet insightful vision of life yet to come.
Empathy, says Julian Lennon, is the bond that unites the planet. He offers, “We are all in this together, and hopefully someday, the world will realize that…and photography is one way to share, learn, appreciate and experience other cultures, which in turn, allows us to empathize with other people’s lives.”
Featuring exquisite portraiture and landscape photographs, “Horizon” blurs the lines between fine-art photography and photojournalism. “Reverence” is a timeless portrait, the light in the room perfectly illuminating the tribal group’s hardened faces. Says Lennon of the picture, “These are the leaders of the community. NGOs and charity organizations that work with them. Here we were with Scott Harrison of Charity: Water, and it was reverence, indeed. The handoff of a water well. The long white clothes you see, the cotton wraps and long scarves, they protect from heat and cold of the desert. They have a natural insulation for both. Scott was honored with such a scarf. It is a ceremonial piece. Water-work is the message. Awareness is at the heart of the series.”
This beautiful moment of intimacy binds us to the tribe, powerfully invoking the realization that water is the crucial element upon which our collective survival depends. And, unlike in many of the pictures we see from the world of charity, there’s a feeling of pride and dignity that exudes from the faces in the photograph, clearly a reflection of the empathy with which the photographer treats his subjects.
“I’m very much more a fly on the wall. I don’t want you to see me. I don’t want to know you’re there. I just want to capture,” states Lennon. This unintrusive presence has allowed
Lennon to capture candid pictures that we instantly connect to. Lennon also includes some landscape photographs in the exhibit that seem to have been created in the Daguerreotype era, spectacular, almost otherworldly landscapes captured by him in compositions that celebrate the incredible, vast and arid African horizon.
Our retouching, printing and mounting teams worked together to make this exhibit the success that it was. Fine Art Account Manager Hillary Altman at Duggal has worked closely with Julian for over five years now since we created the pieces for “Timeless.” It’s thrilling for all of us to see this remarkable artist progress as he has, bringing incredible beauty and warmth to his pictures. All photographs in “Horizon” were produced by our fine-art digital archival printers on Duraflex, mounted to 1⁄8-inch nonglare Plexi, with aluminum backs and braces, except for “Hope,” which was printed as a digital fiber silver-gelatin print and then custom-framed in a black float gallery frame.
Whether he moves through music or photography, I look forward to the stories that Julian Lennon has in store for us. Judging by the work he has created thus far, what we know for sure is that he will always connect us to what is most real.