DENNIS MORRIS / BOB MARLEY: GIANT
Opening reception: March 29, 2014 | 8-11p
On view: March 29 – April 12, 2014
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
BOB MARLEY: GIANT by DENNIS MORRIS
It was while skipping school to wait for Bob Marley to arrive for his sound check at the Speak Easy Club on London’s Margaret Street that Dennis’s music photography career really began. Bob Marley was so taken with the young teenager who was waiting for him that he invited Dennis to come along and take pictures on their upcoming tour. Dennis packed his bag and jumped on the bus.
Morris and Marley felt an immediate connection, as Morris stresses, this was a man who “knew he was on a mission”. He was out to break down barriers and confront intolerance through his actions and through his rebel music. Morris’ first photographs of Bob taken at the Speakeasy in 1973 are grainy and dimly lit – just one spot of light catches the instantly recognizable features. The expression on Marley’s face is intense, such was his total immersion when on stage. “He could have been praying, he could have just got hit by a bullet, he could even been laughing,” says Morris, describing his favorite image of this time. “Seeing him live, he expressed himself in all those ways: in his face, his movements, his eyes, everything.” Other photographs in Morris’s reportage-style collection capture Marley backstage, on the tour bus and at home in Hope Road, Kingston, Jamaica. They are all intimate images but they focus on the public Bob Marley.
“He wasn’t a very tall man, but he was a giant of a man. He had immense presence, and the beauty was that it spread on to you. You had to really get your act together.”
“I think when he died, half of Jamaica suffered,” says Morris. “He fed a lot of people, he supported a lot of people emotionally, financially. He put Jamaica on the map.” Marley was like a priest, recalls Morris. People would go to him with their problems and he would give them an answer, and before he went on stage he was “almost like a shaman, drawing inspiration before they walk out to face the masses and give the message. Then he’d walk on stage and the place would light up.”
About the exhibition:
The exhibition consists of 28 intimate portraits and live shots of Bob Marley in black and white and color taken by Dennis Morris.
About Dennis Morris:
Dennis Morris is a British-based artist who has used the camera to produce an in-depth body of work on extraordinary individuals.
His work is closely associated with music, having created some of the most iconic and memorable images of Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols as well as the Marianne Faithull Broken English album cover, but he has also captured the essence of the Sikh community of Southall (UK), the collection was subsequently bought by English Heritage. He is also created the iconic Public Image Ltd logo and their first two album sleeves, including the Metal Box. Several books of his work have been published, including Bob Marley: A Rebel Life, Destroy on the Sex Pistols and Growing Up Black, a chronicle of Black Britain in the 60s and 70s. His work is well recognized and has been exhibited internationally (Today Art Museum, Beijing; Laforet Museum, Tokyo; Arles Photography Festival, France; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland…).
His photographs are included in prestigious public and private collections, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and have appeared in numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, Time, GQ, Vogue, W, Frieze; Lipstick Traces: a Secret History of the Twentieth Century by Greil Marcus, Century by Bruce Bernard, and 100 Days of Active Resistance by Vivienne Westwood.