Elsa Bleda

Lives and works in Johannesburg.

Elsa Bleda was raised travelling and eventually settled down in South Africa in late 2006 as a teenager. Whilst studying music production, Bleda continued her passion for photography and film. After graduation, Bleda decided on moving forward with visual arts. Her Nightscapes Johannesburg series and dreamy landscapes gained her world wide recognition in both the film and commercial worlds. The subject matter, her home city Johannesburg, became a strong influence on her work as her bond with the city grew stronger. She has developed an unconventional yet strong visual identity over the years and her night works are so aptly described as post-future gothic, uniquely composed through the use of light as well as its absence, in juxtaposition to her daylight works which are often dreamy and softer with color plays and an eerie mood. Along the same timeline, Elsa started working on her Chinatowns of Africa project. Chinatown’s of Africa carries a narrative about foreign minority groups and their existence within African society. Her body of work has attracted major brand collaboration. Her first major collaboration was shooting a global campaign for Apple, focusing on the underground artists of South Africa and was shown on all major billboards around the world. She recently became the face of Lexus’ latest campaign “New Horizons”. New Horizons was created for Lexus’ first female engineered car which was a revolutionary move in the brand’s history, Elsa’s stance as a globally recognized female artist represented this shift visually in the television commercial covering her photographic journey through a city. In 2016, preeminent creative director Trevor Beattie chose Elsa as one of his ‘Famous Five’ and as a result she appeared on the cover of The Drum magazine with a lengthy interview about her being a unique and influential young voice in the industry. Since then she often cites Beattie as her mentor. Elsa had her first solo exhibition in Kalashnikovv Gallery in 2016, showcasing her Nightscapes: Johannesburg series. The exhibition was followed up by Nightscapes: Cape Town in Red Bull Studios. Bleda shifted her focus on technology in the meantime and has collaborated with South African tech companies for immersive experiences. She created her recent solo exhibition in 2019, ‘Memories of Dreams’ in which the subject matter is a spiritual journey through the foggy mountains of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. The exhibition had augmented and virtual reality works developed, as well as a physical experience created to illuminate the atmosphere of the photographs exhibited. Bleda has been featured in multiple local and international publications. Elsa is currently working on her photography book to be released in 2021 and her film journey through art-house projects.