Bobson Sukhdeo Mohanlall


March 11 – April 12, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, March 21 5:30-8:00 PM
On view at Skoto Gallery during the 2014 Arts Council of the African Studies Association Conference

Bobson Sukhdeo Mohanlall was among the first African studio photographers to produce color portraits, from the late 1960s onward. Founded in Durban, South Africa, in 1961, Bobson Studio became a busy family business, offering various photographic and framing services at two locations. Bobson Studio was especially popular with Zulu clients, who could spend hours posing in various outfits, many featuring traditional beadwork. Mr. Mohanlall shot 120-millimeter film with Rolleiflex or Yashica Mat cameras. Bobson Studio retained the films, and printed postcard-sized prints or custom enlargements for its clients, producing black-and-white prints in-house but sending all color work to the sole commercial color lab in Durban. The importance of Bobson Studio’s archive was recognized in the 1990s, when the Mohanlall family authorized a selection of exhibition prints, sized 8” x 8”. After robbers tragically murdered Sukhdeo Mohanlall at Bobson Studio, the family closed the studio. The master-printed edition exhibited here, bearing the Bobson Studio stamp and certified by the Mohanlall Family Estate, follows years of painstaking cleaning and restoration of the archive’s negatives. Sukhdeo Bobson Mohanlall’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, and are in several private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and The Newark Museum.