Gered Mankowitz:  – ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’ @ The White Cloth Gallery

Experience Hot Metal – Gered Mankowitz

‘Jimi was very shy and retiring, humble and modest. Not starry or assertive, and that pretty well remained the case during the time that I knew him. There was a complete contrast between the man on stage and the man in person.’ – Gered Mankowitz

As a vital photographer of the rock scene for the past 40 years, Gered Mankowitz has seen the golden age of rock music develop through the eye of his camera, capturing the images of musical legends like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Suede, Oasis and Kate Bush. Now, his exhibition which is on display at the White Cloth Gallery during March and April, honours and explores his contribution to 1960‘s music photography, specifically through his boldly enamoured documentation of the elusive figure of Jimi Hendrix. Taken at a crucial moment in Hendrix’s short and spirited career, these photograph’s dissect and contradict the mystery and idolisation of Hendrix’s powerful public and on-stage presence.

Mankowitz delves into the idea of the iconic, exploring the reality of the legend of Hendrix with a deep sensitivity and subtle capacity for capturing Hendrix: the person, rather than the image. The black and white photos are a highlight for the avid fan, they show Hendrix in a way which is not invasive, posed or abrupt, unlike so many modern images we have come to associate musicians with. By capturing the true spirit and nature of Hendrix in a frank and open way, his work becomes more than just a filmic portrait of a rock and roll legend, but instead a glimpse behind the myth of Hendrix’s on-stage mythical persona. For me personally, the grayscale works were more powerful and arresting than the high colour, almost hallucinatory, pop-art-like prints which decorated the walls because of the honesty required by the plain photo form. In the black and white photos we can truly see Hendrix, complete with acne scars, wrinkles and a slight shyness. Hendrix grins and gazes out at the viewer with an emphatic clarity and yet appears to border on near nervousness, an endearing and often unthought of reflection of the man who symbolized the  spirit of rock music in the 1960’s. This is an idea which is somewhat missed by the depersonalization of the high colour, pop-art like versions.

The minimalism and simplicity of the square gallery space provide an opportunity for Mankowitz’s works to speak with their own suggestive honesty, I however would have preferred the images to be exhibited in a less rigidly ordered fashion. At times the space felt disparate, separated into black and white vs. colour, which drew the viewer to the colour images and left the less saturated somewhat unassuming and unnoticed. The inclusive gallery space allows for a more intimate viewing of Mankowitz’s work, assuring the visitor that the ‘Jimi Hendrix Experience’ will not only be an ‘experience’, but a personal one at that.

‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’ exhibition will run until 5th May at the White Cloth Gallery, Leeds.

Helena Wallace

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
5 March – 5th May 2014
White Cloth Gallery
24 Aire Street
Leeds LS1 4HT

Filed under: Art & Photography, Music