Paolo Pellegrin has travelled to some of the Earth’s harshest and most extreme environments, to bring back photographs which speak to a profound communality of human experience. As a member of the Magnum agency, Pellegrin works within a tradition of photography which transcends easy definition as documentary or expression. Instead, he has described his attitude towards his practice as ‘mak[ing] the specific coincide with the universal, [so that] the photograph becomes archetypal’.
From this exhibition which celebrates the impressive diversity and scope of his career, there are particular photographs which stand apart, evocative of a special quality often present in Pellegrin’s work. Whether addressing urban poverty, disease, natural disaster or conflict, Pellegrin photographs go beyond documenting abstracted chaos and suffering to illuminate specific moments in the lives of individuals whose behaviour refuses to be overwhelmed by the drama of their context. These images reflect an essential and acutely moving human resistance, the poignancy of existence heightened in some of the most challenging landscapes of our time.