ALEXIS DE VILAR
Alexis de Vilar began taking photographs as a teenager with a Mamiya c330 that incidentally was handed to him in the island of Ibiza by a professional photographer. Alexis was waiting for his brother to land at the local harbour. In turn Alexis was about to depart for Barcelona and the photographer asked him if he could hand over the camera to a friend upon reaching the city the next day. This took place in 1964 at a time when Ibiza had not yet an airport, so all the communications were due by boat. Alexis dreamed to become an architect but that camera, that he dissembled during the cruise night journey, changed his path. Upon arrival to Barcelona Harbour the next day, he called the people he was supposed to hand over the camera and managed to keep it for the weekend as they were going away. Somehow and this was quite a feat, the young Alexis got the number for the most iconic top model at the time, Margit Kocsis (an abstract painter that was famous because of riding almost naked on a white stallion for a brandy advert) and to Alexis’s surprise she agreed to be taken pictures for free. Not being able to pick the model on his car for lack of a driving license, Alexis collected Margit with a taxi and not having either a studio, he took her to the cemetery that presides over the city in Miramar mountain. To his own surprise the resulting pictures were good enough. Suddenly his architecture dream was over.
In the following years Alexis won an award at the 1st international advertising film festival in Barcelona. He was only 20 year old at the time and the same year represented Spain in Cannes. But tired of the commercial side of advertising, he turned shortly after to become a war correspondent in Uganda in 1972 and then after focused on social and environmental issues. In 1978 he founded in Brussels the Tribal Life Fund, an international association to help preserve the so-called primitive peoples and the ecosystems that make up their natural habitats from the advances of industrial society.
His works as a writer has conquered some of the best newspapers and magazines around the world, and as a photographer has presented his work in art galleries and museums in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. During his long career he met and befriended such characters such as Alan Watts, Cypriot president Makarios, Sir James Mancham (president of the Seychelles islands), Frederick Forsyth and Larry Collins (both writers and former war correspondents), Dr. Christiaan Barnard, Glenda Jackson, Michael Chaplin, Luis Buñuel, Arthur C. Clarke, Ivan Illich and Henry Miller, among many other personalities from the worlds of politics, arts, and sciences. author, photographer and explorer. Over the years, Alexis has visited over thirty countries, and has become a specialist in third world problems, in particular those of Africa and Asia.
He has published several books and novels and is currently working on several others. As an international journalist, Alexis was the only member of the press allowed to enter the Victor Versten prison near Cape Town while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there.
In 1979 Alexis was selected by UNESCO to write an official television series for the International Year of the Child, due to his experience with childhood problems in the Third World. Sometime later he went on special assignment for National Geographic / Rutas del Mundo. for a few years. In 1992, the well-known Parisian publisher Robert Laffont labelled Alexis, the ‘Cousteau of the Earth’, as he continues fighting alone to protect from our Western Civilisation, the last traditional peoples and their supporting ecosystems. Internationally he is one of the most successful, creative and sought after photographers still alive and working. He speaks numerous African tribal languages and often returns to live amongst his traditional friends.
"Behind the Lens: Alexis de Vilar, nomadic photographer. / Eric Vökel:
A career filled with anecdotes, journeys & eccentric partners that brought him vital enrichment and some transcendental accomplishments.
2008, June. Art Vietnam Gallery, Hanoi. Group exhibition.
2012, June. Royal Bay Sofitel, Agadir. One-man show African Song.
2014. Bretagne, France. Chateau de Kergrist. One-man show Portraits of the desert.
2016. Nairobi Tribe Hotel/Lisa Christoffersen Home Gallery. One-man show Swahili song.