Hunting the shadows of nature is how artist Manel Esclusa describes the intentions that drive his photography. Golden fields of wheat and cascading rain forest vines cast dramatic shadows on white pieces of card that he has laid, capturing these natural patterns.
Esclusa's 112x90 cm glossy shots are just one of the contributions by the 16 Spanish artists in the exhibition "Cazadores de Sombras" (Shadow catchers). The goal of the exhibition, according to photo exhibition commissioner Rosa Olivares, is to "show what appears and not what is in doubt, it is about the ambiguity... and above all, the shadows.”
The “shadows” is an elusive concept that lightly threads together many powerful works as we explore a contrast of different environments and lives.
In one room, Sergio Belinchon's video "Shadows" is projected onto a curved wall as busy silhouettes run along a rain-slick street. The music creates an ominous, rushed air. Along the walls are the wispy creations of Tony Ceballos. Using a photographic technique on emulsified paper that reacts when an object touches it, Ceballos has made large black-and-white works of the body that conjure a sense of the fleeting.
A recurring idea in the exhibit is the urban city as the natural habitat of the 21st century. It is presented as a strange place in which the lights of the city are obscure and guide us instead of stars. The city is portrayed as an attractive and dangerous concrete jungle. We move along an ever-changing landscape, past a backdrop of traffic lights, shop windows and advertisements.
Anna Malagrida's work looks at some of the characters inside this fast paced, flitting world. She focuses on the voyeuristic fascination we have with what lies behind a window.
We often imagine what occurs behind closed doors, who lives there and what dramas unfold between lovers or families or with oneself. Two large photographs of a building with closed blinds and silhouettes merely offer suggestions of what lies behind them. Next to these photographs are the close-ups of the room--a lone woman seated in the dark lit only by the glow of her laptop, and a man seated, gazing out the window as his lover leaves through the door. Two outdoor scenes depict a woman walking along a deserted highway and another woman seated in her car in an abandoned car lot. Each character has a sense of solitude and abandonment that surrounds their trapped personal world.
And all the while, the city lights blink in the distance.
In another city, Barcelona, 12 photos depict the sons and daughters of immigrants, each of a different age and race (from Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Morocco). The artist studies the phenomenon of integration and equality in a city that has never held a strong reputation for accepting immigrants. Each character is photographed wearing the jersey of the Barcelona football club, El Barca, the symbol of Catalan pride. The motto “more than a club” is used to show how each immigrant attempts to reconstruct and assimilate his identity through the football craze.
Other artists in the exhibit include Mario de Ayguavives, Sergio Belinchón, Tomy Ceballos, Javier Codesal, Manel Esclusa, Pere Formiguera, Amparo Garrido, Germán Gómez, Dionisio González, Anna Malagrida, Alicia Martín, Begoña Montalbán, Rafael Navarro, Concha Pérez, Xavier Ribas and Juan Urrios.
CAZADORES DE SOMBRAS
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
First Floor, South Wing
3 September – 5 October