Pérez Siquier

FEB.14.2020    MAY.17.2020

Exhibition in Barcelona. Fundación MAPFRE Casa Garriga Nogués Exhibition Hall

Carlos Pérez Siquier
Marbella, 1974
© Carlos Pérez Siquier


FEB.14.2020       MAY.17.2020


Casa Garriga Nogués
Diputació, 250. 08007 Barcelona

Carlos Pérez Siquier (1930), a leading figure in the forging of photographic modernism and the professionalizing of this medium in Spain, enjoys a prominent place on the Spanish scene, firstly for his neorealism work and later as a pioneer of color photography. Pérez Siquier acts from a privileged peripheral position on the sidelines in both these disciplines, with a unique perspective that is fully mindful of his own authorship despite having started out with an intuitive understanding of photography more similar to that of a passerby than of a portraitist.

This exhibition aims to serve as an extensive retrospective of his most distinguished series carried out between 1957 and 2018 and includes a substantial number of unpublished images and documentary material that enrich their discourse.

The essence of what makes Carlos Pérez Siquier‘s photography so valuable and interesting is the attention he pays to the real world around him, a world to which he has devoted his entire extensive career. The seemingly contradictory nature of his radical changes of topic and his shift from black and white to color disappears when we analyze his work and uncover its clear-eyed consistency. His innovative approach, an ability to see the possibilities where seemingly there are none and his passion for photography all help make up one of the most powerful and important bodies of Spanish photography work of the last few decades. Pérez Siquier is not a photographer who constantly looks from one side to the other, instead he constructs his own world without attempting to follow a traditional format. Step by step he creates a compact work in constant evolution: an original, extraordinary, local, small, reduced and yet at once universal world, which has given meaning to his life.

Throughout his career, which led to him receiving the 2003 National Photography Prize, this photographer has created a photographic corpus that participates in the debates of the times in a tangential yet also profound and scathing way. His photographic series are populated by the periphery of society, the visual alterations arising out of Franco-era developmentalism, the cultural shock produced by the massive influx of foreign tourists to Spain, and his recent withdrawal into a more personal domain.

Black and white photography: Pérez Siquier has always stated that he wanted to present an optimistic view of La Chanca and his deep admiration for the strong fighting spirit of those living in this neighborhood of survivors. Although his work focused on life in the most radical sense of the word, immediate, irrefutable and more traditional in nature (weddings, pregnant women, children’s games) he also indirectly and poetically captured scenes evoking death and despair.

A sense of humor: these scenes of daily life in La Chanca feature another aspect which is often avoided and which Pérez Siquier‘s gaze singles out, thereby somewhat qualifying the fixed category of realism: namely a sense of humor. This is another reason why these images might seem to disappoint us if we are attempting to find devastating evidence of illness and misery in them. There is a comical side to these images in which the complicity between the photographer and those being portrayed becomes a constant.

Color: Well aware of the significance of moving to color photography, Pérez Siquier decided to abandon the comfortable aesthetic he had mastered with black and white 35mm film in order to start using a larger format camera, a Rolleiflex with 6 x 6mm film. This Chanca is the same yet different: it is not only a chromatic change, it is an entity in its own right. The perspective and the framing changes, the surfaces are enlarged and they begin to take center stage. Pérez Siquier gradually begins to move away from the daily life of its inhabitants who never appear merely for the sake of it.

Afal: in 1956, when Pérez Siquier began his legendary “La Chanca” series, guided by José María Artero, he also founded AFAL, a magazine and group that revolutionized the Spanish photography scene. AFAL was the catalyst for the most influential photography collective of its time, an important showcase for the work of the most interesting and innovative young Spanish photographers of the time. It is rightly considered to be the most important renewal movement in the history of Spanish photography.

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