Mexico City, 1958 © Enrique Metinides. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

From 1948 until his forced retirement in 1979, the Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides took thousands of images and followed hundreds of stories in and around Mexico City. And what images and stories they were: car wrecks and train derailments, a bi-plane crashed onto a roof, street stabbings and shootings in the park, apartments and petrol stations set alight, earthquakes, accidental explosions, suicides, manslaughters, murder.

Xochimilco Lake, Mexico City, 1960 © Enrique Metinides. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

When he was ten years old, his father gave him a brownie box camera. Soon after, he began taking pictures of car accidents on the streets of the San Cosme neighbourhood of Mexico City where he lived. He expanded this to opportunities found hanging around the police station, going to the morgue and becoming a Red Cross volunteer to ride with ambulances. He photographed his first dead body and published his first photograph when he was only twelve years old. At age thirteen, he became an unpaid assistant to the crime photographer at La Prensa and gained the nickname “El NiNo” (the boy) from the regular press photographers.

Mexico City (VW burning), 1951 © Enrique Metinides. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Gallery Owner Michael Hoppen, says of the award-winning photographer:

“In a world where it is increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction (!), it is noteworthy to look at images, that one knows have not been altered nor doctored in any way. The pictures themselves are visceral examples of all human life and the tragedy that has befallen them. Why I find Metinides’ images so extraordinary is hard to explain, as some are very disturbing indeed. But, like studying a Hieronymus Bosch paintings, there is much one learns from looking at the frailty of man, the human condition and the tragedies that beset many in everyday life.”

This exhibtion of Metinides' work can be seen at The Michael Hoppen Gallery from 9th February – 24th March.

Texaco, State of Mexico, August 2, 1970 © Enrique Metinides. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery