20TH SEPTEMBER 2017 - 6TH DECEMBER 2017
The exhibition of Max Penson's photographs will be held under the patronage of the Consulate General of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Dubai, UAE.
Penson’s photographs document the economic transformation of Uzbekistan, his adopted home, from a highly traditional feudal society into a modern republic between 1920 and 1940.
They provide unrivalled insights into a time when the country was loosening its centuries-old traditions and was being confronted by new political and social systems.
Max Penson was born in Belarus, graduated from the art school of Vilnius and later moved to Kokand, a city in the Fergana region of eastern Uzbekistan. After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution (the 100th anniversary of which falls this year), he founded an art school in Kokand. He became the director and taught draughtsmanship to 350 Uzbek children studying there.
In 1921, at age 28, his life changed dramatically when he won a camera as a result of his teaching abilities. He was on the road with his camera, transmitting the upheaval of an ancient culture in fascinating photo reportages, following the rule of “one roll a day”.
He relocated to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent and from 1926 through to 1949, worked for the largest newspaper in Central Asia, the Pravda Vostoka (Truth of the East). He made over 30,000 photographs by 1940 and his images were widely circulated by the news agency TASS.
He was fluent in Uzbek language and this allowed him to create various subjects from intimate to monumental: the education of women and children; the construction of large-scale projects such as the Great Fergana Canal, and many others. His photograph titled ‘Uzbek Madonna’ won the Grand Prize at the 1937 Universal Exhibition in Paris.
Max Penson, using early generation Leica cameras. As such, Leica UAE will be presenting cameras from its collection throughout the exhibition days. Photojournalist became a master of various styles of photography. With the use of dynamic diagonals in his compositions and emphatic lighting, Penson is today rightly regarded as one of the outstanding proponents of Russian avant-garde photography.
He did not just work from an ideological perspective: he regarded photography as an aesthetic challenge, too. The master is among the pioneers who brought the realism of the camera to the magical and mysterious Central Asia.
A photographer, finally, between tradition and revolution, Max Penson’s legacy rests on his extraordinary documentary achievement of portraying, in gripping photo reportages, Uzbekistan's transformation from a medieval social structure to a future.