Peyton Wright Gallery and Peyton Wright Publishing are pleased to announce an exhibition and book signing for William Frej’s new book Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler. There will be an opening reception and book signing on Friday, October 2 from 5-7pm. There will be an artist’s talk and book signing on Saturday, October 3 from 1-3pm. The gallery will observe protocols of the New Mexico Department of Health, and masks will be required for all patrons.
This stunning, substantial volume documents William Frej’s forty-five year search for remote Maya sites primarily in Guatemala and Mexico, inspired in large part by his discovery of the work of German-Austrian explorer Teobert Maler, who photographed them in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of Frej’s magnificent photographs are juxtaposed here with historic photographs taken by Maler, and reveal the changes in the landscape that have occurred in the intervening century. This unique pairing of archival material with current imagery of the same locations will be a significant addition to the literature on this ancient civilization that continues to captivate scholars and general readers alike. The book provides extended captions for all of the photographs, including their historical context in relation to Maler’s images, which are archived at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin, Brigham Young University, the University of New Mexico, and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Maya Ruins Revisited offers an engaging and stimulating visual journey to many remote and seldom-seen Maya sites, and also will serve as valuable documentation of places that are rapidly being overcome by forces of nature and man.
William Frej (b. 1947) has spent decades photographing remote cultures around the world while living in Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan, as well as other remote, mountainous regions of Asia. He has visited over 180 Maya archaeological sites in Mexico and Guatemala, over half of which were first photographed by Teobert Maler. His work has been featured in a number of venues in the United States and Mexico and is included in a number of private and academic collections in the United States, Europe and Asia, including special collections at the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale, the Green Library at Stanford, the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley and the Zimmerman Library at the University of New Mexico.
William Frej’s photographs will be on exhibit at the gallery through October 31. Mayan Ruins Revisited is available at the gallery and may be ordered from the University of Oklahoma Press.
Read the profile in Pasatiempo.
Read the preview in the Santa Fe Reporter.
About the Artist
The photography captures both the stunning high peaks and remote mountain ranges of Asia, as well as the living cultures and religious ceremonies in the faraway regions of the Great Himalayan Range, the Ghats of Varanasi, India, rituals in Guatemala and Mexico, and the stone monuments of Cambodia’s Khmer. Frej’s transcendent photography will transport the viewer to these places of mountain grandeur and still vibrant religious practice.
Frej and his wife Anne first visited Nepal in 1981 on a month-long trek around Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world. Inspired by the practice of Tibetan Buddhism they encountered in remote mountain villages, this trek led to a lifelong quest, documenting both the world’s highest peaks, as well as the resilient people living throughout the roof of the world.
They returned to Nepal in 1982, and in 1985, they took a two-year sabbatical walking to the base camps of the world’s highest peaks. Starting in the mountains of northern Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, the Frej’s walked over 3,000 miles on their personal pilgrimage through Pakistan, India, Nepal and Tibet. Throughout this sojourn, Asia’s highest peaks and their outposts of remote civilizations and religions provided a wealth of subject matter for photography, documenting peaks, people and ceremonies seen by only a few.
Their quest continued over next three decades, until the present, returning to the Himalayas many times, living in Central Asia and Afghanistan, and documenting not only mountains, but ancient religious ceremonies that still define a way of life for Asia’s Hindu, Bon and Buddhist peoples. Frej’s June of 2018 visit to the Indian Himalaya retraced the steps of India’s devout holy men, the Sadhus, to Gaumukh glacier, the source of the holy Ganges, and continued through Ladakh, visiting 24 remote monasteries and participating in ceremonies at Lamayuru and Hemis Monasteries.
Frej has also spent considerable time the past five years documenting both the religious rites of Mexico’s indigenous communities and the contemporary Maya, and the ancient cities their fore-bearers so skillfully created over a millennium ago. His images of Semana Santa, Dia de los Muertos and the Feast Day of San Ildefonso transport us to a place that imbues strong transformational power.
In 2014, his one-person photographic exhibition Enduring Cultures was featured at Galeria La Eskalera in Merida, Mexico. It included black and white and color photography from Afghanistan, Upper Mustang, Nepal, and San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico. His photography was featured in a major exhibition which opened June 2015 at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, titled Tradicion, Devocion Y Vida: 80 years of Black and White Photography in New Mexico and Mexico. His photography on Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico was exhibited October-December 2015 in a one-person show at Peters Projects Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A number of his photographs were exhibited at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in their exhibitions Chimayo: A Pilgrimage through Two Centuries and Mirror Mirror: Frida Kahlo Photographs, in 2017. He was selected to participate in an exhibition titled Faith in New Mexico at Editions One Gallery in Santa Fe.
Peyton Wright Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has mounted several major exhibitions, including: The Maya, Photography by William Frej, 2016, of 32 large-scale, black and white photographs of Mexico’s remote, off-the-grid Mayan ruins; Ancient Kingdoms, Hidden Realms,2017, an exhibition highlighting the Mayan and Khmer kingdoms; Ritual of the Cora, 2019, documenting the Holy Week ceremonies of the Cora people in the Sierra del Nayarit, Mexico; Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler, 2020, a unique pairing of archival material with Frej’s current imagery of the same locations; Seasons of Ceremonies, 2021, chronicling religious rituals in Yucatán, Chiapas, and Oaxaca, Mexico and Rabinal, Guatemala; and Travels Across the Roof of the World, 2022, with his wife Anne Frej, chronicling a sweeping yet intimate view of the breathtaking peaks, splendid valleys, and extraordinary people of the Himalaya.
Frej’s photographs were also featured in one-person exhibitions, Nomads of Kyrgyzstan in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2008 and Himalayan Pilgrimage at the Museum of Asia and the Pacific in Warsaw, Poland in 1998. His photographic work Taninbar to Tibet was featured in a one-person show at the Duta Fine Arts Museum and Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1991. Mr. Frej’s other exhibitions include the Tucson Art Center in 1972, The Eye Gallery in San Francisco in 1977, and the San Francisco Arts Festival in 1976 and 1977. His photographs of Peru received purchase awards from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Arts Festival in the 1970s.
His photographs of the Himalaya, India and Africa were featured in the Edwin Bernbaum book, Sacred Mountains of the World and his photographs of India’s Tilwara camel fair were highlighted in Adventure Travel Magazine. Mr. Frej’s photographic work is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
He is represented by Peyton Wright Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
His book of black-and-white photographs, Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler (Peyton Wright Gallery, 2020), has won sixteen awards. His second book, Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals in Guatemala and Mexico (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2021), has won thirteen awards including four “photography book of the year” awards and the Gold Medal Best Photography book for 2021 from Foreword Indies/Foreword Reviews.
View the current catalog