This large exhibition brings together a selection of works from the Per Amor a l’Art Collection that proposes a journey through the history of photography and the documentary style, from the 1930s to the present day. Curated by Julia Castelló, Sandra Guimarães and Vicent Todolí, “Sculpting Reality” includes a selection of 300 works by fundamental authors who not only aspire to reflect reality, but also reflect on their veracity, their staging or the concept of seriality in art. This way of representing the purest and most transparent reality evolves by integrating itself into artistic photography, moving towards a series of conceptual works that revisit the idea of the archive. The exhibition can be visited until May 15, 2022.
Susana Lloret, vice president of the Fundació Per Amor a l’Art, highlights two key ideas: “We continue to build our history with each new exhibition, we talk about the passage of time. This show also speaks of rhythm, as we have gone from the explosive color of the last two exhibitions in the collection (“Hyperspaces” and “Botánica”) to black and white, from painting to photography, from abstraction to documentary style. The rhythm is not only between the works that make up the exhibition, but also between the exhibitions that make up our history as an art centre”. Lloret continues explaining: “This exhibition represents what could be called ‘art within art’. There are works that have already been exhibited before, but it doesn’t seem like it, because in this new exhibition they take on new life. That sensitivity is what makes an exhibition look like a work of art in itself, created not with the brush or the camera, but with other works of art, hence the expression ‘art within art’. And it becomes clear how the curator is actually just another artist. Well, in this case, three more artists”. And she adds: “This exhibition gives us another opportunity to share and show different graphic documents of a reality and a story that, like all of them, is full of nuances, of staging that can show what happened more or less real. So they will invite reflection”. Finally, he adds: “We are a foundation that goes from intention to action. We want to share visions. We want to share art”.
“Sculpting Reality. The documentary style in the Per Amor a l’Art Collection” takes a historiographic journey through the gaze of nineteen authors.
The exhibition begins its investigation into the beginnings of the genre with the series Double Elephant Portfolio-Selected Photographs. Between 1973 and 1974, Lee Friedlander and Burt Wolf selected fifteen photographs by four authors who had published in the Double Elephant Press: Walker Evans, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Garry Winogrand, and Friedlander himself. As Julia Castelló, associate curator of Bombas Gens Centre d’Art explains: “it cannot be ignored that documentary photography was understood in relation to reporting or photojournalism and, consequently, it was regularly shown in newspapers and magazines”. The authors of the portfolio reflect the beginning of this documentary style and its influence, but also the need of some to experiment with this language.
This aesthetic category emerges with Evans in the United States and is reflected very early in authors such as Helen Levitt, Robert Frank or Louis Faurer. Also non-American authors like Ricardo Rangel. Later on, photographers like Susan Meiselas or Tod Papageorge. The latter exemplifies in this sample the entry of color into this genre in the sixties—and later Mike Mandel and Anthony Hernandez—.
Vicent Todolí, advisor to the Per Amor a l’Art Collection, emphasises the importance “of a private collection that shows its concern for having a coherent content, capable of evidencing various eras of photographic language, which allows us to see its evolution and the connections between authors from the beginning and end of the same century. This exhibition is a clear manifesto of what we have always worked on: ‘making a collection of collections’”.
In the 1960s, a new generation appeared in Germany that collected this documentary style—Bernd and Hilla Becher, for example—: documentary photographs of industrial archeology, grouped by typology (looking for a type-image and seriality) and following a systematic methodology (use of black and white, rigorous frontality and long exposures). The characteristics of documentary photography intersect with conceptual art, which emerged in parallel those same years. Thus, together with the Bechers, David Goldblatt, Edward Ruscha or Lewis Baltz are presented within this new documentary photography in which the concept prevails, but in images loaded with documentary and aesthetic sense.
As Sandra Guimarães, artistic director of Bombas Gens Centre d’Art explains: “The concept of seriality in art is one of the specificities of the photographic medium and accompanies these artists in their need to question and reflect on the world around us, on the existing, complex, cruel and beautiful reality”. A reflection, either from portraits or landscapes and also with the need to classify to understand similarities and differences in structure and appearance. The exhibition also presents, as inheritors of this documentary style, works such as those of Bleda and Rosa, Ian Wallace, and Xavier Ribas.
“Sculpting Reality” is accompanied by a catalog that reproduces a selection of the works in the exhibition and essays written by the artist Ian Wallace himself and by the writer and lecturer—who has reflected on photography as a document since 2008—Víctor del Río. This publication is a co-production with La Fábrica Editorial.
FUNDACIÓ PER AMOR A L’ART
The Fundació Per Amor a l´Art (FPAA), private and familiar, displays its triple activity, artistic, social and research, in the old refurbished Bombas Gens factory in València. The Per Amor a l’Art Collection, advised by Vicent Todolí, has a collection of more than 2,250 works of art by 220 authors and, through various exhibitions and activities, its exhibition space is shared. The work of the FPAA related to the social integration of minors at risk of exclusion and support for people with Acquired Brain Injury is carried out from its Social Area. And it also promotes research and dissemination of rare diseases, especially Wilson’s disease.
¿Qué es Bombas Gens-Fundació Per Amor a l’Art?