Renowned photographer Andy Gotts has announced a new photography exhibition, called Nemesis, which features portraits of villains from the Hollywood blockbuster James Bond franchise.
This new exhibition will showcase these 007 villains like never before in Al-Mare at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah in Knightsbridge, London, and is running up until 8th January 2024.
On the announcement of this new exhibition, Andy Gotts commented:
"My project Nemesis came about during lockdown. Like every other creative/artistic person, for a couple of years, there were no commissions. As I was in my third decade of being a celebrity photographer I thought I would use this period of time to look through my back catalogue and put together a retrospective book of my career.
"It was during this process I realized I had shot an awful lot of actors who have played a ‘Bond baddie’. I worked out there were only six actors still alive that had been a 007 foe that I had not shot in my 30-year career so I made it my mission to shoot them so I had the full set."
Gotts has been a fan of the Bond franchise ever since he was a young boy, having picked up a love of 007 when went to see the first movie on his own, which just happened to be a James Bond classic: For Your Eyes Only.
Gotts continues: "My parents had gone shopping in Norwich and set me up with a bucket of popcorn, a large bottle of pop and placed me in the centre row of the ABC cinema. It was probably seeing the gadgets and equipment that started my love for cameras…though mine do not fire bullets!"
"A key one to get was Rami Malek – the most recent villain having played Lyutsifer Safin in No Time to Die – and one of the most poignant shots was Michael Londsdale, the space-loving foe Hugo Drax in Moonraker. He passed away aged 89 about a week later during lockdown, so this is the very last portrait of this giant of a man."
Gotts describes the journey to capture Lonsdale in more detail: "I shot Michael at his home in Paris. I have always been a fan of Michael and loved his moves going way back to Day Of The Jackal. This shoot was put together specifically for this project and at a time when COVID was spreading throughout the world, and as luck would have it the shoot was planned for the very last day travel was allowed and the airports closed for lockdown.
"I knew Lonsdale was a tall man, 6ft1 (1.85m) and quite ‘stocky’. So I was a little taken aback when I arrived at his residence to see this fragile figure in a wheelchair. The sands of time are not kind to anyone, and it had escaped me that a man 89 years old, who had been retired for a number of years, would look quite as delicate. After a delightful afternoon chatting and swapping stories, I headed home through a deserted airport.
Though the story of Lonsdale's last portrait is a poignant one, at least Gotts was able to meet him. Some villains did miss the collection: "My favourite Bond nemesis is, without doubt, Auric Goldfinger. His humour and ‘wheeler-dealer’ persona were very infectious, he was like the German version of Del-Boy Trotter. Cheating at golf and cards just to make a little pocket money, It is such a shame the wonderful actor Gert Fröbe, who played Goldfinger, had passed away before I started on photographic career but it will take a lot to beat this wonderful character."
Other images manage a different emotion. Gotts described shooting Andrew Scott in Flemings Hotel, Mayfair: "Andrew was a dream to shoot and to be around. He is one of those people who does not put up barriers or just want their ‘good side’ to be seen in the shots. After we did the entire shoot of iconic and quirky snaps we sat around chatting over a drink. I was speaking about venerability in art and rawness in the natural face. The subject turned to crying/men crying in images. So I suggested, as we were still all setup, that we should try to capture a shot with these raw and vulnerable qualities.
I asked him what headspace he would need to be able to create a tear. I joked and asked him if I should pinch him on the arm… which caused a chuckle, not the desired effect or the best idea! Andrew sat in front of me looking down at his feet. He said ‘Are you ready?’
He lifted up his head and at that moment one tear rolled down his cheek and I captured this salty trickle at the perfect moment. I only took this one shot of the ‘tear’ image as I actually felt I was intruding in a moment he was having, even though this moment was specifically created to take a shot. It felt too personal as he was obviously thinking of something painful to cause the tear."
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