Essay 512 • Nov 13th 2022

My latest work ‘Nemesis’ evolved over seven years of wanting to create my own narratives that reinterpret the familiar but often obscure landscapes and locations I encountered on my travels around Asia, reimagining them as places of mystery, fear and suspense. The images are constructed by revisiting scenes of interest during the desolate early hours to take multiple images which are then combined to produce one perfect large format background image. Later returning to the scene with the various actors and props to add in the choreographed tableau elements that complete the story. The work sets out to explore the themes that are prevalent throughout my work like dread, mortality and increasingly, the uncanny and to question our relationship with reality and fiction.

Toby de Silva is a contemporary British artist who creates large scale photographs that investigate the interplay between perceived reality and the uncanny.

Inspired by artists and writers who draw predominantly on the imagination de Silva constructs images that question our relationship with mortality and fantasy. His work has evolved from documenting the extraordinary to reconstructing it and always starts with a compulsion to explore something mysterious. Subjects have included locations associated with hauntings, sites of unsolved murders and houses that appeared in classic horror movies. His first major work was ‘The Perfect Place to Die’ a two year survey of Japan’s infamous Aokigahara ‘suicide forest’.

More recently de Silva has focussed on re-purposing the landscape to suggest alternate realism, often inserting artificial elements or staging events that feature fictitious narratives meticulously assembled to create fantasies invoking mystery and tension.

Currently based in Asia, de Silva studied at Falmouth University followed by an MA in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster
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