Monday, 13 September 2010
The forthcoming exhibition at Diemar/Noble Photography may have a strange name 'Quetzalcoatl' Photographs by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, but its origins are what fascinate me most. I will leave the details of Bravo's career to our website. Quetzalcoatl is the name of a mesoamerican diety. The name means 'feathered serpent'. Aptly it was related to gods of the wind, of Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. What a perfect connection to the gifted Bravo whose imagery is both magical, wondrous, clever and beautiful.
His understanding of shadow and form are exquisitely rendered with prints so stunning you can stare at them forever. My own personal favourites are pictured here. The tools have such weight and abstract presence they seem to be carved into the paper rather than printed upon it. The gymnast's lithe form curves with such a sensuous twist, we do not need to see the face of the woman whose form fills the frame perfectly - the shadow of her fingers crisscrossing over her breast like an aloe vera plant - mimicking the creases of her gymnastic suit. This somehow subtly seems to be referential to the Mexican origins of the photographer, intentionally or not.
The use of hard and soft shapes is also fascinating in the x-ray image of a hand holding a flower in 'Giving Hand'. The delicacy of the flower has a strange haunting quality as the graceful gesture is eclipsed by the bone structure of the hand, then your attention keeps drawing your eyes to the fine stem and petals held between the finger and thumb.
In 'Our Daily Bread' I find myself thinking of scarves, gloves and Christmas despite it being taken in a place of warmth. The animals resemble reindeer but are probably some other mammal native in the Americas.
These charming, intelligent images elude a warmth and understanding that many photographers' could certainly learn from today.