I am attracted to both sides of photography and architecture: where science and art overlay each other. First a South African engineer, I seemed to be headed for a Silicon Valley somewhere. Having left South Africa in 1975 for a year in South America, I found myself in a different Californian valley, studying photography at CalArts north of Los Angeles: particularly the topographical American photographers of the 1930’s onwards. It is right to learn from others. Favourites? Robert Adams, Nicholas Nixon [portraits too], Stephen Shore, John Pfahl, Lewis Baltz, Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Lee Friedlander, Ed Ruscha, Dorothea Lange, Berenice Abbott.
After the comfort of the Jo Ann Callis classroom, my task was, naturally, to work out the next question: what to do with my new enthusiasm? where does the camera go and why? where is the duck’s eye? low or high? [this was years before Iwan Baan]. Consider a large camera in a small room with furniture, and just a few sheets of transparency film. Under the darkcloth, a dim image beckons on the ground glass, upside down and backwards. From where is it best to feel the space of the interior or the weight of the superstructure? Back then, you needed lots of kit, a spotmeter and [thank you, Edwin Land] help in Polaroid form. Fortunately, there remains a thrill in figuring out a new picture to lob into the world’s archives that conveys the architecture and gives an idea of the physical experience. A composition that somehow works, regardless of the ‘rules’.
All this was, I believe, adequate training for digital photography which offers a new universe.
I have had the wonderful good fortune to work for several formidable architects: Norman Foster, O’Donnell + Tuomey, Grafton Architects, not forgetting the excellent Walters & Cohen Architects for example..
In 2005 the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded Dennis an Honorary Fellowship [Hon FRIBA] for his contribution to architecture.
“You see and show things that are deeply intrinsic and otherwise hidden. At least as far as I understand it, this is what art means, and only art can do. Here in Mexico, you would be referred to, in ordinary conversation, when being spoken to and about, as maestro.”Andrew Makin, architect
“A note to say how marvellous your photos are. Receiving them has lifted all our hearts and given us the energy to persevere! Sometimes our spirits flag a little under the pressures we come under and seeing your images gives us back our own work in a truly refreshing way.”Shelley McNamara, architect
“Internationally recognized photographer Dennis Gilbert captures architecture at its best and has been doing so since the 1980s. His career has taken him from South Africa to London, Japan, Hong Kong, and Iceland. Gilbert also seems to have a keen eye for playing with the transparency and reflective quality of glass in his photographs. Contemporary architecture is kind to Gilbert in this way — his tactful images of glass interiors capture the disparate channels of movement that would otherwise be hidden by opaque walls. And as much as the glass reveals, Gilbert also uses glass as a layering device for his views from the interior to the exterior and vice versa. Gilbert’s sensitivity to these ostensibly invisible elements exposes his extensive experience and expertise.”Hana Cohn, complex.com
“… the images were absolutely fantastic. They led to us having an awful lot of coverage and we captured new media streams… I’m sure that the photography was the catalyst for the project being publicised in four different countries, landing four front covers and more than 10 feature length articles.” Regen MediaJessica Taylor, Communications Manager