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Black and White. The power these non-colors have on our eyes, our imagination, are difficult to pin down. Vincent Van Gogh found it necessary to master these two tones before feeling comfortable to work with his legendary splashes of color. Such is the importance of these striking tones.

Nuno Moreira works in the realm of photography, but his art is no less striking than the great Dutch master’s work. His new book, “Zona,” is a meditative exploration on how (non-) colors, text and black and white images work together in a seamless fashion. The cover itself starts the experience of this book out quite nicely.

In an age where digital reading material is the norm, it is a wonderful sensation to feel the coarseness of a well-done book cover. As each page passes, one can choose to meditate on the stark tones inside. Text written by José Luís Peixoto give one pause to drink in the meaning of these words (in Portuguese, English and Japanese).

More on Nuno’s eye. Perhaps referencing the Dutch Masters is a bit off. There is something more searing about black & white, something more otherworldly, a better way of telling a story, a way of acclimating movement, curve, form, to text. The models use simple movements – a touching of a shoulder, the extension of a hand… Much like in the altar of a church, or in the making of icons, there is absolutely no detail that is superfluous. Through simple movements, Nuno and José Luís play off of each other. The words are few, yet the stories told here are quite deep.

I can’t say I’ve come across such a work before. It’s a perfect meditative tool for me, and I say this as one who comes from a background steeped in icons, ‘Jesus’ prayers and a wonderful sensory overload which inspires calm. The contrast of powerful images separated by black or white pages gives one an opportunity to truly drink in what one has seen, and then move on to the next image, fully satiated. It is a masterful work, and a rare opportunity to ‘borrow’ the eyes of a visionary.

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