Peter Frank's photography highlights the power and mystery of sangomas.

Arts writer

A SOLO exhibition by British photographer Peter Frank, Sangomas, will be held at the BeautifuLL Life building in Bree Street until December 14.

Frank’s large-scale, commanding portraits depict the spirituality of the holy men and women with a focused sensibility.

Each provides a rare insight into the sometimes unfathomable mysteries of a fascinating culture.

BeautifuLL Life is the new home of the BASA award-winning organisation, Youngblood Arts and Culture Development.

A percentage of the proceeds will go towards Youngblood Arts and Culture Development, supporting African arts projects and initiatives.

Frank visited the sangomas in their township huts around the city, photographing them in the small and basic rooms in which they live and practise.

For the required time exposure, the healers had to sit still for eight to 10 seconds, explains Frank. During this unusually long exposure time, he used a single lamp to model the Sangomas facial features and sacred robes.

With this simple technique, he drew light accents out of the darkness, channelling expressions and highlighting the mystical aura of his subjects to capture their powerful presence.

With his work, Frank pays tribute to some renowned African photographers such as Zwelethu Mthethwa, who has portrayed black Africans in their everyday environment, grand and proud.

Like Mthethwa, Frank consciously uses colour photography in order to distance himself from the black and white images in documentary and press photography.

His portraits depict existential aspects of African life that are both timeless and powerful.

l For information, call 021 424 0074.