The art of tango

LOCAL photographer Fiona Saunders will be exhibiting her latest work in Stradbally from now until the end of August. Hosted by the Arthouse Gallery, the exhibition is entitled “Buenos Aires – Desde el Alma”.

LOCAL photographer Fiona Saunders will be exhibiting her latest work in Stradbally from now until the end of August. Hosted by the Arthouse Gallery, the exhibition is entitled “Buenos Aires – Desde el Alma”.

The opening night of the exhibition is this evening, Wednesday August 8 at 6pm with a reception for visitors. Karen Hendy, one of the resident artists at the Arthouse will formally open the exhibition.

Originally from Portlaoise, Fiona Saunders is a professional photographer. Having had a career in finance originally, Fiona left the corporate world over 10 years ago, returned to study her real passion and completed a photography degree in London at the University of Westminster, graduating with a distinction.

Fiona started her photography career in the world of fashion photography in London and now her commercial work ranges from corporate commissions to portraits to wedding photography; Fiona shares her time between Portlaoise and London where she is still commissioned by a wide variety of clients.

Her recent body of personal work, shot earlier this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, takes the viewer on a journey through the birthplace of tango. Having started learning tango over three years ago now, Fiona went to Argentina to produce work for both a photography book and an exhibition on tango; Fiona’s aim was to present a collection of beautiful, soulful images that captured the essence of tango, as a dancer and insider rather than a photographer and outsider.

Interviewed in London recently by Christiane Monarchi, editor of on-line photography magazine Photomonitor, Christiane observed that Fiona has produced a body of work “which is able to speak universally to the viewer about a passion and a place”. Presenting a mixture of images from Argentine daily life and the late night tango salons in Buenos Aires, Christiane added: “Images appear to have dialogues of colour: blues, reds, vibrant yellows and greens in the crisp compositions of fruit stands, the impossibly beautiful hand painted hoarding of a newspaper kiosk, and the colourful heels of tango shoes perfectly angled. Daytime images seem to exist in suspended animation - the slow gaze of the newspaper seller, the rich patina of carved oak doors and restaurants still living out the heyday of Argentine Art Nouveau”.

Of the tango images, Christiane notes that: “A visual journey through your body of work is punctuated by the exploration of touch - the hands, the embrace, the physical touch” - emphasizing tango’s reputation as a very sensual, passionate dance. Tango is very definitely a nocturnal activity. Originating in the working class districts of Buenos Aires, Italian and Spanish immigrants danced tango in the bars and bordellos of Buenos Aires with other immigrants, sailors, courtesans, and cowboys. This history imbues tango its sensual, nocturnal and at times melancholy feel, which comes across in the images in the exhibition. Fiona has also just published a photography book of her work from Argentina to accompany the exhibition. The official book launch of “Buenos Aires – Desde el Alma” (Buenos Aires – From the Soul) will coincide with the opening night when the book will be for sale. The exhibition will be open until August 31.