Bicycle Portraits

Bicycle Portraits is a photographic book of everyday South Africans and their bicycles.

Stan Engelbrecht & Nic Grobler have published the best 162 portraits and stories of the over 500 portraits of cyclists they’ve photographed during their 2 year journey around South Africa. Divided over 3 books, each contains a different 54 stories, and also two essays each by local South African and major international cycling figures, including pieces by Noble prize-winning author JM Coetzee, and the godfather of mountain biking, Gary Fisher. The books are designed by Gabrielle Guy and they have also collaborated with celebrated South African artist Gabrielle Raaff to create an individual hand-painted watercolor map, based on Google Maps, to indicate the location of each of the portraits.

When they started this project, Bicycle Portraits aimed to be a study of South African commuter culture, and they wanted to find out who rides bicycles, why they ride bicycles, if and why they love their bicycles, and of course why so few South Africans choose bicycles as a transport option. But Bicycle Portraits has turned into a portrait of a nation through the bicycles that they own and ride every day – revealing all manner of social, class, historical and cultural nuances never imagined.

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The official opening of the Bicycle Portraits exhibition & book launch was held on the 19 April at a pop-up gallery on the Corner of Long Street & Leeuwen Street, Cape Town. Here the photographs by Stan Engelbrecht & Nic Grobler and orginal watercolours by Gabrielle Raaff were on display. The exhibition runs till the 11 May so head on down to have a look.

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