Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Journal // Poet of the Lens

I'm not sure whether it's because everything seems infinitely more romantic in the winter, but this time desperately calls for cosy days spent meandering and looking at pretty things. A notion inspired by a recent trip to LDN, and an afternoon spent on its glorious Southbank. A cup of salted caramel latte in hand to compliment the visual delights that are on offer would be the icing on the cake.  Unfortunately, my current place of residence is neither near city nor gallery, and my diary is currently jam-packed with day to day responsibilities (...how atrocious) so, putting that plan into action is at a standstill. So I settled on plan-B: 'internet art perving'...

With the eruption of the notoriously violent Mexican Revolution during his childhood, it would seem inevitable that photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo would go on to showcase complicated ideas of identity, life and death within his work.

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How small the world is, 1942
bicyclesonsunday
Bicycles on Sunday, 1966
 
Although I'd been aware of some of his images before, I hadn't ever really took the time to delve into his whole body of work. His collections span over a wondrous period of time and are all so breathtakingly beautiful. However, it's his work in the 1930s that I absolutely adore. The bloodshed of the Cristero War had not long ended, counter-revolution had fought back, and Manual Alvarez Bravo captured and represented the intimates of his culture in the height of social change.

Through perfect compositions Bravo (every time I write his name down, I can't help smiling at how brilliantly, fantastic is it!), transcends the usual boundaries of what we understood as documentary photography. Pioneering the creative renaissance of the image, Bravo took inspiration from modernist movements, using composition to warp meaning, spiralling realism into the surreal.

absent portrait
Absent Portrait, 1945
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Laughing Mannequins, 1930
frida
Frida Kahlo, 1930
flight over sea
Flight over the Sea, 1939
crouched ones
The Crouched Ones, 1932
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Optical Parable, 1931
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via Pinterest
 
The familiarity of a portrait shot: the subject absent, a pile of clothes lying in their place. A candid image of a marketplace, populated with laughing mannequins. And his work with Frida Kahlo? Delightful.

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Figures in the Castle, 1920
 
In his pursuit of exposing the 'everyday' -  the landscape, its personality, its juxatpositions - Bravo encourages the spectator to tear apart first appearances and search for the story underneath. A visual labrynth of textures and attitudes, layered with ancient symbology.
Poetry.

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A Big Ladder, 1930

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