The history of photography in Spanish 1839, the year in which the first daguerreotype was taken in our country. Since then, the photographic practice has gone through many phases, from the first reception of the new medium to the differentiation between photography and artistic photography, going through commercial expansion or the different contemporary discourses. But what are the contemporary practices in photography today? Are there common traits in the current generation of Spanish photographers? How are your speeches and technique working? In this article, we briefly review the history and practice of photography in Spain in recent years and present the work of 20 young photographers who are developing very interesting work.
A brief review of the history of recent years of photography in Spanish
As José Luis Marzo and Patricia Mayayo affirm in Arte en España’s (1939-2015) ideas, practices, and policies, until the 1980s, photography occupied a marginal place within the world of art in our country. Until then, there had been a very marked influence from the tradition of classical photography, which differentiated between the concept of the artist and that of the photographer, photography in Spanish. Even so, it is in this decade when the eternal controversies about the aesthetic or documentary value of the technically reproduced image begin to be overcome. However, and despite these advances, it was not until the 1990s that the definitive “normalization” of the medium in the artistic field took place.
Throughout the 1990s, new spaces dedicated to the exhibition and investigation of photography were created, and the major museums organized the first major exhibitions on it, such as Four Directions: Contemporary photography in Spanish, 1970-1990., curated by Manuel Santos at the Reina Sofía Museum. In addition, the various private foundations that had emerged with the arrival of democracy were showing a growing interest in their photography programming (for example, the La Caixa Foundation, the Telefónica Foundation, the Mapfre Foundation or FotoColectania, specifically focused on contemporary photography). Editorials and specialized magazines also began to emerge, and in 1998 Photoespaña was born, an international photography festival that has been held every year in Madrid ever since and has grown and consolidated until it has become a reference event for the world of visual arts.
As for its position in the art market, in the 1990s photography became the appropriate medium to take over from painting, somewhat exhausted after the pictorial 1980s. And although installation, video and even painting itself, which has experienced a resurgence in recent years, are disciplines that continue to function in the context of the contemporary art market. After the boom of the 1990s, photography was consolidated in our market and since then sales have not changed substantially.
In short, photography in Spanish from the eighties until now, photography has earned a leading position in the national art scene, in which both critics and museums, as well as the market, have accepted the unquestionable importance of photographic language.
Contemporary practices Photography in Spanish
In the post-photographic and post-modern era, it is increasingly difficult to find common characteristics within the same generation of artists. However, broadly speaking, contemporary practice in current photography in Spanish is distinguished by:
- Anti-documentary trend, questions the concept of photographic realism.
- Theatrical or staged photography, in which reality and fiction are constantly mixed with the use of models and recreated settings.
- Redefinition of landscape and still life.
- New documentary: subjectivities of themes and search for aesthetic values in parallel to thematic content that continues to adjust to social, cultural and economic problems.
- Intimacy through the recovery of personal and family stories.
- Photobook and desktop publishing boom.
- Convergence between fine art and commercial photography: Photographers who do commercial commissions no longer feel the pressure of the art system for it.
The best Photography in Spanish photographers whose work you have to know
(They are not all that are but they are all that are)
Rubén H. Bermúdez
He works as a photographer for Photography in spanish at Barriga Estudio. Co-founder of the Fanzine ’10 × 15′, he is the author of the photobook ‘Berlin: Looking for freedom’. In 2014 he started the project ‘And you, why are you black?’ with which he gets the Fotopres scholarship. He also gives workshops, conferences and research on the representation of blackness. He is the coordinator of the photography magazine ‘ClavoArdiendo-Magazine’.
The projects of the photographer Dani Pujalte approach, from an honest and personal point of view, cultural and social problems with the intention of transferring them to a universal or generational level. Through the search for confusing and unique landscapes, he manages to represent a series of singular situations that evoke and suggest the present, or the future, that surrounds us.
David Hornillos studied photography at the Blank Paper School and is a member of the Fotoaplauso collective. He was awarded the 2013 ARCO Award for Documentary Photography and was nominated for the First Book Award. In 2014 he participated in the exhibition “Books that are photos, photos that are books” at the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum (Madrid) and in “P2P Contemporary Practices of Spanish Photography” Photoespaña 14, Teatro Fernán Gómez, Madrid.
His first photobook, Noon (Dalpine), was published in 2014 and was nominated for the Kassel Best Book of the Year Award 2014.
David Simon Martret and Blanca Galindo (1984) are the names behind Leafhopper, a collective of artists whose work is based on documentary photography but develops by exploring other artistic disciplines. And that work as a collective, as a team, is one of the most interesting features of Leafhopper, since their artistic practice, their way of conceptualizing their projects but also of producing or elaborating them, are influenced by the fact of working together. Travel as a vital experience, rather than as an exotic experience, is also decisive, not in their work, but in their way of analyzing the reality that surrounds them and on which they reflect.
Laia Abril is a multidisciplinary artist who works with photography, text, video and sound. She is a 2018 Visionary Award winner and the author of several books including The Epilogue and On Abortion. In 2016 she was awarded the Foto España Revelation Prize, Fotopress Grant and Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro for her exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles A History of Misogyny, chapter one: On Abortion. Her work has been exhibited internationally in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, France, Italy, and Spain.
In his work, Jorge Isla is interested in the limits between photography and other artistic disciplines, not as a confrontation between them but as a new space for dialogue. He also investigates how there are features of reality that are imperceptible to the human being but that can be known through different tools. This is what happens in Sputtering, one of his most recognized projects and which shows, through sequences of images, how the camera is capable of perceiving something that is invisible to the human eye: the physical process that causes a fluorescent light to flicker. That blink is reflected in his photographs, allowing us to contemplate a phenomenon that would be impossible to do otherwise.
The documentary photography of the artist Toni Amengual seeks to provoke critical thinking in our society. In recent projects, he has investigated the same topic: the current mass tourism model, in which capitalism, precariousness and hedonism converge. His work has received awards and mentions such as PhotoEspaña Discoveries 2010, Scan Tarragona 2009, Absolut Portfolios Award in New Documentary at La Fábrica or the Best Self-Published Photobook Award at PhotoEspaña 2014. His work can be found in collections such as that of the MOMA museums ( New York), TATE (London) and MACBA (Barcelona).
Bego Anton was born in Bilbao in 1983 and lives in Barcelona. His photographic work dissects human behavior and reflects on our psychological and moral involvement with the natural world. He also shows particular interest in small groups to work on concepts such as truth, reality or fantasy.
His work has been published in the Lens Blog of the NYT, National Geographic, Le Monde, CNN Photos and The British Journal of Photography among others, exhibiting in Spain, New York, Washington, Switzerland or Germany.
Ignacio Navas (Tudela, 1989) lives and works in Madrid. He has studied Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid and Photography at Blank Paper School, where he has collaborated in parallel in training and management work. His work was unveiled in the 2011 edition of Intransit with three projects underway that showed us a surprisingly solid line of work for such a young artist. These projects are “Linde” (2012), “Yolanda” (2014) and the still unfinished “El Norte” (2011 – ). For the presentation of these works, Navas resorts to self-publishing systems in the form of photographic series, around a plotline, which finally gives rise to a book fanzine in a closed edition.
With a personal work that has been developed as his training and interests progressed, Óscar Romero has created his own discourse far removed from the prevailing trends in current photography. His work explores social issues but also more intimate projects, such as “Bodegones 2018” a series in which he creates stories of light and color through personal objects. Romero, who in 2011 was awarded the first International Prize “Universe in Spanish” organized by the Cervantes Institute, Loewe and El País, combines commercial commissions with personal projects in his work, endowing his work with resources that are rare in photographers. contemporaries.
Rita Puig-Serra ‘s work is closely related to literature (not in vain is she, in addition to being a visual artist, and editor of Perdiz Magazine). With her work Rita, she explores the concept of identity and how it is redefined in the different stages of our lives. She also investigates the essence of human relationships and the influence that love, death, luck or memories have on the construction of ourselves.
Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Granada. He completed his training with a master’s degree in Photography and Visual Design at the NABA University of Milan, courses and residencies at prestigious national and international creation centers.
His works have been exhibited in numerous exhibition centers in Miami, New York, Buenos Aires, Brussels, Berlin, Milan, Rome, Venice, Osaka, Tunisia, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Bilbao,… as well as in international fairs such as ARCO, ART MIAMI or BASEL. In addition, his work can be found in numerous private collections, museums and institutions such as CA2M, Unicaja or Fundación Botí in Spain, BSI Bank in Switzerland, Eberhard, and FORMA (Centro Internazionale di Fotografia) and Fundación Luciano Benetton in Italy or Bayer in Germany.
Geray Mena lives between Madrid and Amsterdam. He is a photographer and his work focuses on how the biography of objects, gestures and languages affect our memory. Geray Mena’s work contains a strong oneiric aesthetic, which hybridizes the real and the fictional, still life and architecture. His work has been exhibited in reference centers, fairs and international and national festivals such as the Conde Duque Cultural Center and the Cibeles Center in Madrid.
The photographer and conceptual artist Sandra Ferrer investigates controversial and everyday stories and experiences, which she represents with great sensitivity through her photographs and installations. Ferrer analyzes and reflects on the small details, sensations and emotions that are experienced in these situations from a new point of view, showing how, through these stories, identities are built.
Sara Janini is one of the best portrait artists currently in Spain. She knows how to capture like no one else the essence of both the protagonists of her portraits and the places and landscapes she reproduces. We are used to seeing Janini’s images in international and national travel publications (National Geographic, El Mundo Viajes, among others). Janini has presented her work in various spaces in the capital such as the Royal Photographic Society, Matadero or Casa de América, as well as numerous private galleries.
The works of this Enrique Escandell start from a personal context, from experiences close to the author, where through the simplicity of his frames he shows us details and places that could go unnoticed. Escandell warns us of these little stories behind the images he photographs to turn his personal gaze into a more universal theme.
Madrid photographer Paco Poyato investigates the concept of globalization from the study of experiences shared by different groups. The construction of individual and collective identity from these experiences defines his compositions. His works have participated in the benchmark PhotoEspaña festival, also hosting international exhibitions at the Creative ECC in Berlin, among other institutions.
Andrés Pachón has developed, in recent years, a visual practice on the construction of the colonial imaginary through the use of photographic archives in anthropology and ethnography. In his works he reflects on the construction of knowledge through photography, establishing relationships between the practices of the s. XIX and XX, and the technological uses of the present, as is the case of his current research on the sociotechnical activity of Computer Vision systems by Artificial Intelligence.
Pascual + Vincent
Although they are individually established photographers, Pascual + Vincent have been working as an artistic collective since 2014. Their project The Tree of Life is Eternally Green was the winner of the “Make” call (Foro PHotoEspaña-Comunidad de Madrid), selected in “Encontros da Imagem 2014” ( Portugal) and a finalist of the “Barcelona International Photography Awards (BIPA) Lens Culture 2015”. The Tree of Life is Eternally Green reflects on identity, using the natural environment as the main axis that articulates its discourse, seeking to represent through its images realities that are far from clichés, generalities or prejudices.
Óscar Monzón works mainly with photography, video and electronic music. He has been a member of the BlankPaper collective since 2003 and has since developed different projects that have been exhibited at Ivorypress, Círculo de Bellas Artes and Instituto Francés, in Madrid; at FotoColetania in Barcelona; at Le-Bal and Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain in Paris, at IMA Gallery, in Tokyo and within the Les Rencontres d’Arles, Breda Photo and Lianzhou Foto festivals. In 2013 he published his first book KARMA, winner of the First Book Award from Paris-Photo / Aperture Foundation and in 2017 he published his second, ECSTASY.
The interest of the artist Gloria Oyarzabaltowards themes such as imperialism, colonization/decolonization processes, neocolonialism tactics, rights claims and more recently the identity and representation of African women, have led her to live three years in Mali and to enjoy artist residencies in the Art House Foundation (Lagos, Nigeria) or in “El Ranchito” in Matadero (Madrid), developing its activity around the African context. Gloria approaches her works by self-questioning, generating debate and proposing possible new ideologies -without prejudice or blinded by the aesthetic exoticism of these cultures- keys to inciting curiosity in the viewer. Her work, increasingly international,
Trained at the Institut d’Estudis Fotogràfics de Catalunya, Bosch promoted the Ruido Photo collective (2004), and is the founder and part of the CFD Barcelona team (2012), and has taught and led participatory photography projects. For her work on the elites of Lebanon, ‘Bubble Beirut’, she received the FotoPres Scholarship from La Caixa in 2016.
Antonio Guerra reflects, through photography and installation, on the transformation processes of the landscape and our perception of it through images. Guerra intervenes in the landscape as a raw material through which to express his ideas, such as the abuse that man makes of the environment and its fragility or the symbolic associations that we have of the landscape from a cultural point of view.
The light of Iceland is the protagonist of the Still light series by the Valencian artist Paula Prats. The images explore how the ever-changing light in the Nordic country affects people, landscapes and colors. The confusion caused by the experience of this new perception of light is expressed in her work, which conveys the strangeness of the permanent summer sun and the impact of its long absence during the winter. Prats’ work has been exhibited individually and collectively in exhibitions in Spain, Canada, Mexico and Iceland.
The artistic practice of David Ortiz explores the narratives of certain contexts and territories through various languages such as video, photography, painting or installation. Thus, the photographic projects, «Mount Analogue», «Niebla progress biodiversity» and «Tropical Malady», raise issues such as disappearance, displacement or landscape in relation to Mexican territory through literary and film references. David Ortiz has participated in national and international exhibitions such as the ACME Hall in Mexico, the CICA Museum in South Korea and the MOTI Museum in the Netherlands, among many others.
Bilbao artist Eriz MorenoHe investigates the territory in his projects through site-specifics, thus giving great importance to direct work experience with the place where the work is produced. In his creation process, he establishes connections between different information on facts and topics that apparently have no relation to each other but that allow him to obtain different points of view. His Bratstvo / Jedinstvo project is an investigation of the “Brotherhood and Unity” highway, built in the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia to connect, with its 1,180 kilometers, the six regions that made up the federation. Eriz Moreno undertook a road trip as a way to get closer to the territory through the experience of the trip and to get to know the idea of what Yugoslavia is and was: a country that, although it does not exist politically,