The work of Lebanese photographer Serge Najjar shows a striking mix of vibrant colors and stark architectural geometry. His pictures generally feature a small, lone figure in the midst of an overpowering backdrop, giving an impression of man’s smallness as he moves through the world he’s created — an inverted power relationship in which the man-made dominates the maker.
The titles of Najjar’s photographs often reference art history. “Trinity” takes the form of the triptych and applies it to three wall cutouts that expose quick glances of the architecture behind; seen in one cutout is the upper body of a priest, further alluding to Christian imagery. In “Shape in Square – Ode to Malevich,” the Suprematist’s two-dimensional, layered shapes are markedly transformed into three dimensions, indicated by shadow and a small human figure who breaks the formalism of the photo.
In an email exchange with Hyperallergic, Najjar explained his take on the relationship between humans and constructed environments:
I find the relationship between Man and Architecture interesting because, in this “duel,” the human being brings at the same time warmth and scale to architecture. This gives, in its turn, an abstract dimension to Man.
Najjar’s photos often seem otherworldly, like fragmented glimpses of images that we assume are more complete outside the frame. This is an essential part of their appeal, adding to a sense of man’s alienation from his setting. There is, however, little that’s dystopian about this work — the images are colorful and intensely seductive, aesthetically optimistic takes on urban architecture.