Paolo Gasparini. Field of Images
SEP.30.2021 ──────── JAN.16.2022
Electoral Campaign, Avenida Urdaneta, Caracas, 1968
Fundación MAPFRE Collections
© Paolo Gasparini
SEP.30.2021 ── JAN.16.2022
KBr Photography Center
Avenida Litoral, 30 – 08005 Barcelon
Paolo Gasparini is the photographer who has best portrayed the cultural tensions and contradictions of the South American continent. His images convey the harsh social reality faced by a region whose cultural authenticity is unquestionable, and where the past and local traditions parley with a clumsily imposed modernity. Gasparini creates an oeuvre with its own visual language that always seems to express a criticism of consumer society while at the same time revealing a certain obsession with the way we are seduced by marketing and advertising.
Italian by birth yet Venezuelan in spirit, through his work the photographer has tried to eliminate the ethnocentric visions and stereotypes that have historically defined Latin America, almost always in terms of ‘the other’, fueled by the different populisms and nationalisms the region has endured.
Curator: María Willis Londoño
The work of Paolo Gasparini enables us to understand not only the differences between Europe and Latin America, but also the tremendous diversity of the latter region, ranging from Mexico to the southernmost tip of the Andes.
The exhibition is divided into sixteen sections that feature the artist’s most important projects over more than six decades of work, with an emphasis on his photobooks, which the photographer recognizes as a means of expression that is just as valid as his photographs.
To See You Better, Latin America (1972): As well as being one of Gasparini’s best-known photobooks, To See You Better, Latin America gave rise to the texts for the exhibition presented at Fundación MAPFRE: The Journey.
The author’s approach to visual culture stems from movement, because while he walks, he portrays, and in this wandering he reveals the poetry in his work, influenced by urban tragedy, revealing all its vitality amid the chaos. The book is supported by texts by the writer Edmundo Desnoes which address the difference between seeing and looking. This project reflects the urban, social and cultural landscape of Latin America, a continent divided ideologically between socialism and capitalism, where images of Marlboro or Pepsi coexist with those of Che and the Child Jesus, revealing an imagery invaded by messages that are simultaneously political and promotional.
The book arose as a result of the trips Gasparini made through Latin America with the historian Damián Bayón as part of a UNESCO commission to record the continent’s architecture between 1970 and 1972 and to illustrate Bayón’s research.
Il senno di poi: In his work, the artist tends to break with the timescales of his series, revisiting images that he made a long time ago with more recent ones. This is what he himself denotes as il senno di poi: “[…] I mean, with the wisdom of hindsight. I associated images by linking them with different themes, places and dates, trying to organize a new discourse which, through architecture and certain aspects of daily life in the city, would point to a reinterpretation of Caracas in its past and future, representing social, political and cultural contradictions.”
Committed photography: Coinciding with the unrest of the 1960s in Cuba and echoing the nationalisms and populisms that plague Latin America, Paolo Gasparini felt a moral imperative not only to reflect the events actually taking place but also to take a stance alongside the discourse of left-wing intellectuals who, at that time, were advocating for a form of social art that would do justice to these events. Today that commitment is still as valid as ever and, through his work, the artist continues to denounce all forms of extremism.
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The exhibition Paolo Gasparini. Field of images is accompanied by a catalogue with reproductions of all the works on display. It also includes essays by the curator, María Wills Londoño, the photography historian Horacio Fernández, the art historian and visual cultural researcher Sagrario Berti, the writer and journalist Juan Villoro and Antonio Muñoz Molina, holder of the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.