Belgrade-born photographer comes home to celebrate Bowie



BELGRADE, SERBIA, Jovan Matic and Rachel O'Brien- In 1983, a young photographer from Belgrade was trying to make his name in London when he captured David Bowie's hotly-anticipated return to rock.
Three years after his chart-topping "Scary Monsters" album, Bowie was back with new music and a new look, and rookie Brian Rasic jostled with the British press pack at Claridge's Hotel to get the best shot.



"It was my first time seeing him in the flesh... I was starstruck," Rasic told AFP at his new "Belgrade to Bowie" exhibition, a photographic tribute to the musician who died in January.
Rasic's picture of Bowie, suited and smiling into the camera at that press event 33 years ago, was the first of dozens he would take of the British icon over the next two decades.
His best shots are now on display in the Serbian capital, including many of the flamboyant singer performing on headline tours or at more intimate gigs.
Off-stage moments include a dapper trilby-wearing Bowie boarding a Eurostar train, or grinning as he emerges from a London black cab -- although Rasic says these too were often staged.
"I remember him as a funny guy, he always had this smile on his face and laughter as well," said Rasic, now in his early 60s.
As he captured the artist's multi-faceted career, Rasic forged his own path as a renowned music photographer in London, where he still lives.
He became a British citizen in 1991 and has worked with some of the biggest names in rock, including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton.
But Bowie, he said, was "one of a kind".
He was "always being different," recalled Rasic.
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Though they met numerous times, Rasic said his professionalism stopped him from asking to be photographed with Bowie -- "It's kind of not cool," he explained.
But "there are times when you do dare," he said. And so after a gig at the BBC Radio Theatre in 2000, Bowie's bass player snapped them together, in a pose also captured from the side by a publicist.
That image ended up on the cover of the concert's live album -- with Rasic cut out.
"Later David autographed the album for me, and I'm very proud of it," he said.
The exhibition of Rasic's work opened at Belgrade's Yugoslav Film Archive to a packed crowd last week and is on display until August 21.
The city's three-month tribute to Bowie also includes film projections, workshops and exhibits by local artists inspired by the glam rocker.
Bowie died two days after the release of his final album, "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday, following a battle from cancer that he kept hidden from the public.
"I'm not alone: the whole world was shocked, shell-shocked by his death," said Rasic.
"But there's the music -- the music will live forever, and we will love him forever."
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Thursday, June 2nd 2016
Jovan Matic and Rachel O'Brien
           


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