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© Joelle Medina

Peter Gonda

Peter Gonda (1968–2016) studied at the Dawson Institute of Photography in Montreal during the late 1980s. As a young photographer, Gonda was deeply moved by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, who remained a lifelong inspiration. Cartier-Bresson’s theory of the ‘decisive moment’ informed much of Gonda’s style, as did the photojournalism of Robert Capa and the astute social commentary of Robert Frank, amongst other modern masters. (Like Frank, Gonda would also turn to filmmaking as an extension and elaboration of his photographic work.)

Although he would eventually make a concession to digital photography, Gonda remained resolutely ‘old school’ in his stylistic preferences, caring little for trends in contemporary photography. He shot in black and white with few exceptions, and remained true to an observational, painstakingly composed image. His photographs are occasionally experiments in formal composition, but are, in the main, frank yet compassionate studies of people and places. He was guided by an uncompromising vision and sensibility, and his work speaks of an internal consistency that never became rigid.

An inveterate, independent-minded traveller, Gonda took his photographs primarily whilst on the road. He resided for extended periods in Prague and Paris, and journeyed extensively and memorably through a number of countries including (but not limited to) Cambodia, Cuba, India, Mexico, Thailand, Tunisia and the United States. At the time of his death, he had been planning to travel to West Africa for the first time.

His photographs have been exhibited in London, Paris and Montreal.

Gonda’s restless, enquiring creative energy led him to make films and write screenplays, and in 2015 he completed his first novel, Drinking and Driving in Chechnya.


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