Johannesburg’s architectural beauty, captured by Patrick de Mervelec

A few weeks’ ago I went to an exhibition of French-born (but Jo’burg-based) photographer, Patrick de Mervelec.  De Mervelec’s photography focuses mainly on the bold lines and the solid composition of buildings, but his previous work has included fashion models, famous actors, and even presidents (he’s taken portraits of François Mitterrand and Nelson Mandela).

I’m not a big fan of buildings, but de Mervelec’s images are arresting. Using light and lines, he’s able to capture that inexplicable feeling when architecture somehow morphs into art (and, I suppose, that’s why his prints start at R6 500…).

The exhibition had an accompanying book, entitled, “Johannesburg: Architecture and Heritage”, in which 150 of his images appear. In the foreword, Fanuel Motsepe says, “The images resonate with a hope and a desire that the city will outlive its political and socio-economic idiosyncrasies; the images of dilapidation on some of the buildings are cast as patina on priceless antiquities.”

His lens captures inanimate beauty, and, yes, hope. Have a look at some of his dramatic and slick shots:

11 Diagonal Street
11 Diagonal Street (built in ’84, and designed by German-American Helmut Jahn; who also designed the Sony Centre in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, and Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok)
The old Empire Theatre, Commissioner Street
The old Empire Theatre, Commissioner Street.
Ponte, Hillbrow: A part of Jozi's iconic skyline and the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. 54-story, with an open 'core' through the centre.
Ponte, Hillbrow: A big part of Jozi’s iconic skyline, and the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. 54-story, with an open ‘core’ through the centre.
SABT Studio, Braamfontein
South African Ballet Theatre Studio, Braamfontein.

All images copyright Patrick de Mervelec

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