To Paredes, every element is decisive when creating a good composition. The result is a logbook in images, a private visual diary that reveals the naturalness of what seems secret from the outside.
an article written by Carmen Line Hust
ARTICULATE Promote | February 2021
As an artistic expression, through the photographic tool, Spanish artist África Paredes Martínez del Peral (b. 1978) explores and exposes her feelings and observes the world surrounding her, always seeking a photographic aesthetic close to paintings. Although she has series made in black and white, color is the way with which she feels most identified and fulfilled.
Observation, curiosity and the need to express herself through photography as an artistic way, are the engine that drives Paredes to create.
Paredes was lucky to grow up with analogue photography. In her house there was always a camera and she recall the sacred ritual of going to the store to develop the reels with the subsequent wait to see the results. She began to be aware of photography as an artistic way of expression when she arrived at the fine arts college and began to take and develop her own photographs, following the advice and teachings of her master photographers. This has undoubtedly helped her to develop her career and evolve into the digital age in a natural way.
Currently Paredes takes her photographs with a digital camera, although sometimes attaching an old lens, like in the presented series “Behind closed doors”. Yet, the digital evolution has facilitated the development of her ideas.
In the case of more personal works, like “Behind closed doors”, Paredes plans the whole process. Normally, she turns around some idea or project and the images that she wants to convey appear in her head. Sometimes inspiration comes simply from a ray of light entering the room.
When taking each of the photographs, Paredes doesn’t resort to sketches or models. She usually has the image she wants to make quite clear and, in any case, she prepares a lighting scheme on paper and some notes. From there she goes on preparing all the material and composing the set design. Once she starts the creative process, Paredes sees things that are better visually in another way or that do not convey exactly what she wants to say, and she rectifies and adjust her settings.
When she works with models her creative process is different. Paredes also has the session in her head, but she simultaneously has to figure out how to prepare the emotional transmission with the models, in order to capture the emotions Paredes wants to express. She also thinks about the costumes, the colors…
To Paredes photography is a kind of therapy. A couch in which she publicly exposes her anxieties, her longings, her frustrations, her emotions or obsessions. Inspiration arises from many factors.
“Throughout your life and if you are a person with certain concerns, you are soaked in many stimuli that are shaping a way to capture your ideas. Art, cinema, literature always influence; and with all that information you visually tell your own inner world.”
In the case of Paredes, beginning her studies at the University through analogue, black and white photography also had a great weight, while the influence of painting gradually penetrated her taste for color.
To Paredes, every element is decisive when creating a good composition. When she photographs, she reduces her gaze to a square in which everything is important. The light, the colors, the subject, the composition of the objects. Each element that appears in the image has a meaning in the composition, it all tells a story.
As she has mentioned before, there are many factors that influence the way Paredes guides her own path of creating. Should she highlight one of those, she would pin out painting.
The color and theme of artists of the 19th and 20th centuries such as the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) or the French impressionist artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917). The works in which they open the door to the intimacy of homes, love, women, the most traditional scenes, are of great influence on Paredes. In general, impressionism had a great influence on pictorial photography and cinema, both genres of reference for the work of África Paredes.
In her series “Behind closed doors (2020) photography helps Paredes to frame situations, moments, states of mind that she goes through in her growth as a person, just like an author of novels who selects different aspects of his own life to script his stories. She feels unable to explain in words, in simple sentences, this imposed intimacy that she sees clearly tangible through the lens.
The meaning of the expression BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, title of the series, has taken on a new meaning nowadays, with the pandemic we are living; and therefore, Paredes delves into it through these images, each one composed of two photographs – constituting a single unit – captured in their entirety with an old Helios manual lens adapted to her digital camera. The photographic language, with emphasis on light and composition, prevails, as it could not be otherwise, in each of these works. The result, therefore, is a logbook in images, a private visual diary that reveals the naturalness of what seems secret from the outside.
This article about the Spanish artist África Paredes Martínez del Peral is part of the ARTICULATE Promote Program, supporting and reviewing contemporary artists and their work.
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