Hugo Tillman’s Exhibition

A painter’s approach:
Women moving out of poverty

In 2011 Grameen Foundation invited world-renowned photographer Hugo Tillman to travel to India to photograph the lives of women in poverty who were benefiting from microfinance loans in the village where we worked. The result of his trip was a deeply emotional series of photographic portraits. This Fall, Grameen Foundation has joined forces with long-time microfinance supporter and famed shoe designer Christian Louboutin to showcase Tillman’s work. The photographic series entitled A painter’s approach:  Women moving out of poverty will be on display through November at the Christian Louboutin store in the Miami design district with the goal of raising awareness and support for global poverty issues. To launch the exhibit, Grameen Foundation will be hosting an invitation-only event at the Christian Louboutin store in Miami’s design district.

Hugo Tillman “Meera Devi” “Raj Kumari” “Knife Workshop Corridor” “Knife Workshop Corridor” “Nagma”

“The images are not about being poor. They are about individual women like Meera Devi, with her wire fence making business, who are challenging traditional Hindu gender roles in the domestic space, in the work place and in Indian society as a whole.” -Hugo Tillman

Tillman has been widely recognized, most notably at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and is best known for his famous iconic portrait of Ai Wei Wei. On behalf of the Grameen Foundation, he immersed himself into village live in India and has produced a stunning portrayal of families moving out of poverty. Tillman’s work takes social commentary to a deep emotional level. This exclusive work is a ‘must see’ for all of us with a social conscience and an incredible visual feast. 

These portraits are best understood in Tillman’s own words:

“I have approached this body of work like an early Flemish painting, working in a very slow painterly fashion, sculpting with the daylight and playing with colour and shadows. This formal decision to take a painter’s approach in the genre of portraiture suggests a work of art – more a painting than photography – of women, not as poor people but as proud individuals, representative of a new age for India, women who are challenging traditional gender roles in Indian society.”

Born in London and raised in New York, Tillman set off to Los Angeles for college and studied film and anthropology. His first job was working as an assistant to Mario Testino and after working for several years he went on to receive his Masters in Fine Arts in photography at the Pratt Institute. Please visit for more information on the artist and his work.

Our collaboration with Christian Louboutin

In 2010, executives from the Christian Louboutin team visited women in the villages of Peru whose lives were transformed by taking out small loans to start and build small businesses in order to support their families. After Louboutin executives returned to the U.S. and shared their experience, Christian was inspired to help advance the work of microfinance globally and in order to do so he developed the Limited Edition “Peace of Shoe”. Marie Claire MagazineOnly 33 pairs of the hand-signed shoe were created and auctioned off, and proceeds raised almost $50,000 for microfinance. Grameen Foundation is a charity of choice for Christian Louboutin.

To learn more about what inspired his commitment to Grameen Foundation check out this video of as he hand-designs the Peace of Shoe in his design studio. You can also see the latest press on Fashion Gives Back in this blurb in Marie Claire magazine!