TAFARI – HE WHO INSPIRES AWE Ethiopian masterworks by French photo-artist WILLIAM ROPP at Throckmorton Fine Art in New York

. May 1, 2018

Throckmorton Fine Art is delighted to host Ropp’s first exhibition at the gallery from May 3 through June 23, 2018.

William Ropp says his maternal great-grandfather, Louis Jacolliot, is directly responsible for enlightening his childhood so brilliantly. A frequent traveler, Jacolliot was a judge in Tahiti and president in India of the Chandernagor court. During his short life (1837-1890) he managed to write over 50 books as erudite as they were disparate: of an Indian version of the genesis translated from Sanskrit, after which he wrote The Bible in India or the Life of Lezeus Christina, which earned him scathing criticism and blacklisting from ecclesiastical authorities, to fantastic works, including a novel and travelogue, that take us from the Australian continent to the African jungles.

Ropp’s choice of vocations and love of reading began at age eight with titles such as “The Runner of the Jungles” (1888) and “The Mysterious Africa” (1877). He says he devoured his great-grandfather’s works, often falling asleep with scenes taken from the “Journey to the Land of the Monkeys,” where he describes sitting around a campfire listening to throbbing native songs. He assimilated many local dialects which allowed him to react quickly. His stories resonated deeply with Ropp but it was not until age 40 that the seeds in his memory began to germinate. Then came an irrepressible desire for Africa. His first trip was to Dogon Country in Mali. A country full of myths where the Tellems, — liliputian beings still living in the 15th century, hung between heaven and earth in troglodyte alveoli of the purple cliff of Bandiagara as protection from predators. (Currently the only ones that remain are tourists plundering archaeological treasures.)

Ropp says his next journey was to Senegal with its wrestlers wielding mythical power, turning upside down the image of the Senegalese gunner and his beatific smile “Banania.” Then, at last, his first trip to Ethiopia – what he describes as an extravagant mosaic of lights and shadows at work as a fortress to protect against mountain invasions. Ropp has been back many times with his Ethiopia photographs expressing his perpetual delight encountering human brotherkind in such an amazing locale. The deep respect he feels in the presence of each of them – from the young priest met in a troglodyte church of Tigray, whose infinite sweetness of eyes penetrated his eyes, now saturated with tears as he desperately tried to print his image so that they live forever in this book. Ropp says he particularly like the “s” in Afriques because it is hardly possible to not apply the plural to Africa given its so obvious cultural disparities, from the arid sands of the Taoudeni to the rainbow nations of the Republic of South Africa.

Spencer Throckmorton adds that Ropp has a way of capturing not just his subject’s feelings and emotions, but the true depth of their vulnerability and humanism.

The exhibition will be on view until June 23, 2018

Website: www.throckmorton-nyc.com

William Ropp

Category: Photography

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