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RANJITH KALLY EXHIBITION (article first published : 2004-09-27)

A photographic exhibition of images by Durban photographer Ranjith Kally is running at the Durban Art Gallery.

While some know the name Ranjith Kally from the photo credits in the social pages of local newspapers in Durban, others claim that their school photographs were taken by this ubiquitous, ageless photographer.

Little did he realise that his black and white frames that had been lying in the outbuilding of his daughter's residence for years would receive the attention and awe of the major art institutions in the country.

This is partly due to the efforts of Johannesburg based artist-curator Riason Naidoo who first met Kally while working at the Durban Art Gallery in 1998 and convinced the Goodman Gallery to show Kally’s work earlier this year. Entitled 60 years in black and white and curated by Riason Naidoo, this was Kally's first solo exhibition. It opened to rave reviews in Johannesburg and barely three months later Ranjith Kally has been established as a household name in South African photography.

Kally started taking photographs while working at a shoe factory in Durban while in his teens. Born in 1925 in Isipingo, Durban, he never could have imagined that his accidental stumble upon a Kodak Postcard camera at a jumble sale in 1946 was to take him out of the shoe factory and to a lifetime career as a photographer. He supplemented his income by photographing social events for The Leader newspaper on weekends.

In 1952, Ranjith Kally won third prize in an international competition held in Japan out of a field of 150,000 entries and in 1967 he was selected for membership to the Royal Photographic Society, London for his selection of portraits. Portraits have always been his strong area and it was precisely this strength that saw him capture the likes of Dr. Monty Naicker and former President Nelson Mandela at the Treason Trial; the mixed glamour couple of the 50’s, Miriam Makeba and Sonny Pillay; Oliver Tambo, Alan Paton, Sushila Gandhi and some of the most intimate portraits of Chief Albert Luthuli.

While the exhibition features many of Kally's images of Durban in the 50’s along with photos of that famous jazz club, the Goodwill Lounge in Durban, these are contrasted by the sensitive private black and white portraits.

The exhibition is as much a reflection and recognition of Kally's work since 1945 as it is of the social history of Durban. Shot with an artistic eye, the exhibition allows viewers the privilege of reflecting on South Africa’s fascinating past through the lens of Durban's veteran photographer whose lens finally gets a homecoming reception.

The exhibtion runs until November 9. For information contact Ranjith Kally on 083 356 5625 or Riason Naidoo on 083 356 5625 or the Durban Art Gallery on 031 311 2266.




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