The Surreal Photography of Bruno Cals

On a visit to the Great Pyramid at Gaza back in the early 1970s, author Ken Kesey noted that if one steps right up to it and look upward to the plane, the edifice will fill the entire field of vision.

Brazilian photographer Bruno Cals has achieved something similar with his images now on display at 1500 Gallery in West Chelsea.

“In some ways, his work is simple, but that’s what makes it beautiful,” says Andrew Klug, co-founder of the gallery. 

Cals’ images are of building facades photographed from below, looking upward, placing the horizon in the middle of the plane.  The results?  Photographic images that look like desert scenes, futuristic cities, landscapes from Mars and prehistoric settings.

“It makes you ask what you’re looking at,” Klug says.  “The emotional intention that he’s trying to evoke is one of wonder.”

The 45-year-old Cals is an accomplished commercial photographer – one of the most successful in Brazil.  Not satisfied with shooting ad campaigns and fashion spreads, he set out to pursue an artistic career a few years back.  His first exhibit in 2010, which was also 1500 Gallery’s first solo show, was well received.

The new show, curated by pioneering Brazilian modernist photographer Boris Kossoy – whose own work hangs in both the Met and MoMA – is an extension of that 2010 exhibit.

“In this exhibition, Bruno Cals presents a reflection on space and time—a riveting reflection over indeterminate eras and possible civilizations, extinct or yet unborn, not necessarily human,” Kossoy writes.  “How do our minds react to the unknown, to empty landscapes lacking historical context?”

The images are at once architectural, surreal and ethereal.

“He’s presenting landscapes, and trying to mislead the eye by presenting something very commonplace,” Klug says.  “The effect is one of a very unusual perspective to take a commonplace object and make it unrecognizable.”

The exhibit opens on May 2 and runs through Sept. 28.

For more on Bruno Cals, go to

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