Breathtaking pieces of art photography with enforced messages

Thomas Jukes

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Born within one of the few areas of calm in war-torn Lebanon Eli Rezkallah grew up in a world of political and social tension and from a young age, this is what inspired him to pursue his own unique creative vision. Surrounded by strong and brave women for his younger life, Eli was keenly aware of the underlying distress and suffering that so many had to endure. However, it was the not this fact that truly captured Eli’s mind, it was instead that these women were ‘turning a blind eye’ to the reality of the world that surrounded them. The fabrication of an alternate and better life is something that Eli Rezkallah conveys in his work.

Starting his career life as a fashion show producer in 2004 Eli would quickly begin to develop his own story and launched his own creative studio in 2007. This further culminated in the creation of Plastik magazine, which first went into print in 2009 becoming the Middle East’s first visual publication. Within a single year, Plastik magazine was winning awards and is now available in over 50 countries worldwide, showcasing constantly groundbreaking visual work, including much of Eli’s own.

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Taking a look through the portfolio of photographic work on Eli Rezkallah’s site the viewer is struck with colour. Each photo has an exquisite use of it, often focusing on the use of a single colour or a palette of beautifully complimentary tones to capture the eye of the viewer. This understanding of colour allows the artist to highlight objects and subjects in the photo without ever having to force perspective. Many of the images we see are product advertisement but we never feel like we are being pushed a product. The uses of bright and bold colours always contrast with the product in question, drawing the attention to it. Highlighting the individualism of the object and perfectly giving a sensation of standing out from the crowd.

To look deeper at the imagery of Eli Rezhallah one has to first reflect the world that was the inspiration for the artist. The concept of an imagined reality; a denial of the dangerous and complex world is, as I have mentioned before, a trait which Eli has attempted to visualize within his work. To truly observe his photography is to see past the advertisement to the models behind it. What we see is beauty, as a concept, flawless and refined. Accentuated through the soft portrait lighting and meticulous attention to detail in the make-up of the model. However, in all, we see a far off look, as though lost in a dream. The viewer cannot shake a feeling of melancholy, of a longing to be somewhere else. And perhaps that is the real heart of the image, of beauty and style on the surface but a life lived inside. In many of the advertising photos, the model wears clothes that are identical in colour to their surrounding, causing them to blend in and the focus to fall on the object rather than the person.

Unimaginative souls lost in a most imaginary world

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Having said this, we do see other messages portrayed through Eli Rezhallah’s photos and that is a subversion of out of date and sexist attitudes and portrayals of women within advertising. Again making use of colour for additional effect, we see the model elevating herself from the level where he would have blended in. Like so many other models we have seen in the artists work, to an area where he stands out in stark contrast to her surroundings. A man follows but is simply standing observing from a position of awe. Here is a man who is not content to stay where he is not noticed. Has he changed the world around him instead of simply changing his reality?

Eli Rezhallah’s photography is wonderful to behold, the techniques that he uses to create his images show a brilliant understanding of colour theory, juxtaposition, lighting, and composition. They really do hit all the spots from an aesthetic point of view. While as pieces of advertising I have no doubt that they accomplish the goal that they set out to achieve as they fantastically highlight the product involved as well as a sense and sight of beauty, elegance and class. For me it is the essence of the artist that really comes through in his photography. We begin to see the images as a comment on the complex issues that Eli believes we must face, namely, how we see ourselves in connection to the world around us. Are we a part of it that can stand out and make a difference or shall we continue to hide behind consumer-based reality?

No matter how colorful and vibrant they would paint their world, they could never hide the sentiment of dread that they felt from living in an environment on the verge of destruction.

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