by Carlos Leal, swissstreetcollective

Exhibiting your work – a conversation with Carlos Leal

Daniel Sigg Interviews, The Collective 1 Comment

Carlos, please tell me about your photography journey and about yourself.

I was the rapper and founder of hip hop band Sens Unik (9 albums, 5 golden records) and then I moved to Paris to start an acting career. I’ve been an actor for 20 years now and had the chance to work in more than 100 international productions, that’s also the reason I came to Los Angeles. While I was traveling for movies, I always loved to immortalize places and details of the locations we would shoot in. I would avoid the typical touristic stuff and focus more on the unseen beauty of the city, the unknown life of the locals and I would do my photos with my iPhone. In 2020, during the lockdown in Los Angeles, I decided to pursue a Fujifilm camera and go for photography walks in the most hidden parts of the city. That’s when I got totally hooked. Since then, I can’t imagine going anywhere without my camera. What I’m trying to find is beauty in the non-beauty things, poetry in the dark side of society. I always try to stay minimalist and I have more like a painter approach, I want my pictures to look like paintings. I still have a lot to learn, but the passion is big so I guess I’m full force in this new tool of self expression. As a rapper with Sens Unik, I would depict the problems of this World, so I think I still wanna do the same with photography.

Image by Carlos Leal, all rights reserved


You are starting to exhibit your photography. This is very exciting. Can you tell me more about the exhibit? Time/date/location etc? How did it come about? Is this something you always wanted to do?

(Note to readers: the photographs shown in this post will be exhibited in May in Zurich at the Gallerie Trittligasse). 

I had the chance to show a first series at PhotoSchweiz 2021, and this year I had a solo exhibition at the Center of contemporary arts Abstract in Lausanne my hometown. I will also show a new series in Zurich on May 13th at Gallerie Trittligasse 4, 8001 Zurich. It’s called “I need a dollar, a dollar is what I need”. The series is about the contrasts between the Hollywood fantasy/American Dream and the reality in the streets of L.A. one of the cities with the biggest amount of people living without a home. It’s the first chapter of a project called America = Third World. As a Dreamer in the supposed to be the greatest country in the World, I can’t avoid seeing some reality that doesn’t match with the American propaganda. Of course, showing my work in galleries is definitely something I’m interested in because I’m interested in art in general. Now, I know how big is the competition so I’m working hard on getting my own style, my signature … it takes time. I’m already thinking of painting on top of my photographs and will soon do some tests.

Image by Carlos Leal, all rights reserved

How should others who want to exhibit their work go about this? It might be a daunting task, but perhaps you have some tips or tricks. 

I’m too ‘young’ in this photography world to give any advice. But I guess it’s important to realize what story you wanna tell when you take pictures. you can also just be attracted by the beauty of landscapes, people, cars, etc. I personally am, but as an artist, I want to push the boundaries and send a message with what I see through my viewfinder. I guess, once you find your identity as a photographer, it’s easier for you to move forward and try to show your work as an extension of yourself.

Image by Carlos Leal, all rights reserved

What else is in store for you this year? Do you have any projects planned besides the exhibit?

Well, my main job is still acting. I have a movie with Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson coming out now, it’s called “Father Stu” and soon a mini series called “Avoir l’âge’ for the French and swiss television. I also just finished a film that should come out next year called “Cricket” a beautiful story of redemption. Concerning my photography, I won’t stop because I’m so addicted to it now. I guess after the exhibition in Zurich, I will try to find other ways to show my work… A book for example.

Interview by Daniel Sigg, April 30 2022.

Carlos is a member of the swissstreetcollective.

Carlos Leal: image by Tamara Lee Carroll

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