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Memories on the wall

Dave Brolan and Barry Wolman

Dave Brolan and Barry Wolman  

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Dave Brolan, curator of the exhibition of ‘Gibson Through the Lens’ on modern day challenges of photography

Dave Brolan is as passionate about photography as he is about music and musicians. ‘Gibson Through the Lens’ is his meticulous labour of love to highlight the photographic works and the rock artistes in their element. He’s confident this exhibition will be enthusiastically received in India. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

In this age of digital photography and excessive social media, were there any apprehensions while planning this exhibition?

You can see the Mona Lisa on the internet but it is nothing compared to standing in front of the real thing, you can listen to music on the radio but the experience of seeing a musician in concert is completely different. We have lost touch with the visual connection between music and images.

Now we know what a musician has for breakfast before we know what they sound like. In the 60’s, unless you went to a Jimi Hendrix concert you had no idea what he was like unless you saw a photo from Baron Wolman or Jim Marshall, this was the only other way to have an idea of who they were, these photos made the connection between music, the musician and the fan.

I had no apprehension going into this project, because I see the reaction that seeing real photos, hand printed, signed framed and on a wall has on people. This is a different way to appreciate guitars, musicians and photography, it places everything in a gallery environment.

The highpoints of the exhibition?

For many reasons this is a unique exhibition; it covers the history of popular music and the significant part that Gibson Guitars have in it. The thing that we see is that musically diverse artistes share a common bond by choosing Gibson, so you have Emmy Lou Harris next to Jimmy Hendrix and John Lee Hooker next to Nirvana. Every major artiste and all genres of music are included. We worked with almost all the most famous music photographers in the world so that as a collection, this is the finest group of photographs available, this was the first requirement when selecting photos. The late Jim Marshall for instance, is the only photographer to receive a Grammy Award for his work. Baron Wolman was the first chief photographer at Rolling Stone Magazine, Neal Preston was the official photographer for Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and many others, Ross Halfin is the first choice for rock bands when they need photos. Bob Whitaker was the Beatles official photographer in 1965 and 1966, the list goes on.

While selecting the photographs, was the focus on the artistes or the photographers?

The focus was on both the artiste and the photographer. We made a big list of the important artistes and photographers we wanted to include, I visited as many photographers as possible and also had them look for photos of artistes with Gibson guitars. We had over 100 to begin with, even more perhaps. The hard part was to make a final selection, we could have an exhibition just of Jimmy Page or Hendrix or Pete Townshend, but I think we made the perfect balance to show a little of everything.

So, do you see this exhibition as a culmination of music and photography?

Music and photography are universal, there are very few mediums that we can say this about. I think people will have the same reaction in India that we saw in England, Germany, Australia, America, every country that has hosted the exhibition. Gibson Guitars are recognised all over the world too and the thing that made this project even more interesting is the fact that there is not just one type of guitar, over 120 years Gibson have produced many models and styles but retain a distinctive look.

What are the challenges photographers face today?

The challenge with photography today is that it is almost impossible to have the same access to artistes, in 1968 Baron Wolman could hang out with Jimi Hendrix all day and be on stage taking pictures, today he would get 5 minutes and not get close. Another reason this is special, it could never happen again.

Rockstar photographers

The photography exhibition ‘Gibson Through the Lens’ curated by music photography archivist Dave Brolan, features works by some of the world’s most respected rock photographers. The 60 photographic prints of who’s who of the rock legends includes guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Sir Paul McCartney, Slash, Dave Grohl, Jack White and more – all with their Gibson guitars. The exhibition comes to India after touring London, Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney and Los Angeles.

Presently it is on at Vivanta by Taj till November 12, 11.00am to 11.00pm.to

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:07:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/memories-on-the-wall/article6580582.ece

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