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The New York Times

Dock, 2021 | Digital painting on Baryta paper | 50” x 75”

Al-An deSouza
Flotsam (1926 - 2018)
Through May 26

Born in Kenya to parents of South Asian descent, raised in London, art-educated there and in New York City and Los Angeles, the photographer Al-An deSouza has made the state of being migrant in culture, place and time the subject of his work.

This focus took a specifically autobiographical form several years ago in a solo show at Talwar Gallery called “The Lost Pictures.” Composed of digital prints of vintage, dust-blurred family snapshots, it commemorated the death of the artist’s mother and was accompanied by a stirring prose memoir that shifted back and forth between present and past.

The artist’s new photographic series, “Flotsam,” at Talwar is similarly time-traveling and memorial in function. (The works are not documentary photographs but digital paintings based on a photographic original.) In this case, the pictures are of material possessions left behind by deSouza’s father after his death in 2018: clothes spilling out of suitcases; books and magazines strewn across a bed, jumbles of lotions and toiletries and handwritten packing lists. All suggest preparations for a trip, or the unsettled aftermath of one completed. The crazy-quilt of labels, languages and personal and generational tastes speak of a life unsettled, on the move. And here and there from this pileup of mortal souvenirs family photographs emerge, confirming the artist’s intimate investment in all of this.

DeSouza is now in their early 60s, with a career stretching back to the 1980s. Now it’s time for a museum retrospective that will encompass that span. 


View AL-AN deSOUZA Exhibition