Raj Prem is an internationally acclaimed curator and collector who is known for his magnificent photograph exhibition featuring rock legends from the 1960s and ‘70s.
Starting out as a music journalist, Raj Prem is known for representing talented photographers who captured images of famous rock stars and for turning their work into alluring shows that grant visitors a glimpse behind the scene of their icons. Following a chance conversation in 1996 with Theron Kabrich, one of the San Francisco Art Exchange (SFAe) gallery owners, Prem embarked on his mission to track down and exhibit some of the most epochal pictures in rock history. Filled with passion and motivation, it was only a year until Prem and the gallery launched the worlds’ very first rock photography show in 1997. They made history by displaying photographs taken by renowned photographer Gered Mankowitz during the 1965 US Rolling Stones tour, most of which sold out on the opening night.
This pioneering initial display of music photography as fine art paved Prem’s career, inspiring him to seek out and unearth as many images of iconic bands such as the Rolling Stones and The Beatles as he could find, many of which had never before made it into the public domain or seen the light of day. Prem actively searched for all of the top rock photographers he could think of, including Robert Freeman, Michael Joseph, Iain Macmillan (the photographer behind the bestselling Abbey Road collection), Michael Cooper, Peter Webb, Jerry Schatzberg, Dominique Tarlê, Terry O’Neill, and Pattie Boyd (the first wife of Beatle George Harrison), using their combined work to slowly build an amazing collection of images and become the glue holding the defining photographs of this era together.
Raj Prem’s exhibitions focus on his chosen period of 1963 – 1972, reflecting his love for bands like the Rolling Stones, and preserving in history the time when rock was at the forefront of counter culture and the zeitgeist movement. In an interview with the Times of India, he stated “I don’t detect an interest in 1980s photography”, declaring that the album covers created in the 1960s were often “works of art in their own right”. It is this appreciation and fascination of the photography of that time that has inspired Prem to stage 95 exhibitions over the course of 18 years, of which more than 40 have been curated with his close associates Theron Kabrich and Jim Hartley at the SFAe gallery. To this day, Prem maintains close connections to the London-based Atlas Gallery and Snap Galleries, whose owner Guy White has deservedly become a market leader in this field.
His obsession for the images of rock icons has seen him take his collection to numerous countries and galleries around the world, including the USA, UK, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Netherlands. Critically acclaimed exhibitions such as the major Beatles Retrospective in London and The Decca Years, which depicted the Rolling Stones rise from chart attractions to leaders of the counter culture movement, would not have taken place were it not for Prem’s hard work and dedication in finding the photographers behind the photographs and convincing them to bring their works of art together to build a stunning and captivating collection of images.
Prem continues to collaborate with SFAE, Atlas, Snap, and VIP’s in the Netherlands. Currently he is working on an upcoming show with SFAE on The Rolling Stones to coinside with the Stones exhibition at Saatchi gallery in London. Looking towards the future, Prem remains ambitious about his career and optimistic about his exhibitions and the market for his vast collection of work. His plan is to continue on the pioneering venture that united his career with his passion and he hopes to carry on sharing his wonderful collection of photographs with enthusiastic collectors and rock fans at exhibitions around the world, ensuring these works of art continue to solidify their place in music history.