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Lola Paprocka Blokovi
Photography Lola Paprocka Blokovi

The beauty of Belgrade’s brutalist estates

Lola Paprocka admits she was nostalgic for ‘concrete everything’ when creating work for her new show

“Blokovi Novi Beograd” is a series by London-based Polish-born photographer Lola Paprocka. Paprocka started capturing everything – from her daily life to the architecture surrounding her – around six years ago when she first took her mum’s old Russian camera on a trip to Australia. Since then, she’s focussed entirely on documentary and portraiture in her personal work.

Paprocka was approach by long time friend and collaborator Mima Bulj to capture Bulj’s hometown in the way that she personally sees it. Combining portraiture and images of the Brutalist estates, Paprocka captured the series over a few weeks in the summer of 2015. The photographer didn’t want to ‘focus on any particular group of people’ and admits that she finds shooting in this way more ‘challenging’. It is essentially an obscure energy that draws her to the people in her portraits where she also plays and experiments with colour and geometry. Eschewing classical beauty while searching out originality and authenticity in her imagery, she admits she tries to capture images ‘as naturally as possible’, never wanting to show her subjects in a ‘negative’ or ‘manipulative’ way.

Paprocka mentions that her work was truly brought to life when she started shooting on a 120mm medium format camera, while the colour drenched hues in her images come from a special hand printing technique. With the ‘coldness’ of the brutalist architecture that pervades and an awareness of how Belgrade’s architecture could have been portrayed in the series by a western audience, Lola didn’t want to add any ‘heaviness’ to the series with the colouring of the images. The photographer mentions that with her Polish heritage she has a certain nostalgia for estates and “concrete everything”, a feeling that’s evident in the delicate nature that she captures these landscapes.

Paprocka’s book ‘Blokovi - Novi Beograd’ will be printed in an edition of 300 copies which are available for pre-order online and also at her exhibition at the 71A Gallery this Thursday. Her exhibition and book launch is this Thursday (19th May, 6-9pm) at the 71A Gallery in Shoreditch