Adding value to Spanish Illustration

Alfredo González, Illustration to Seis barbas de besugo, Media Vaca. 2007

 

 

 

Illustration seems to be one of the less-attention-paid disciplines within the visual arts, considered a genre less outstanding and more popular in comparison to other techniques more recognised, like the oil painting or the engraving. Luckily, in the last few years, illustration has recovered a great reputation and the offer of illustrated books in the market, for children and adults, has increased. We no longer look for fairy tales pocketbook for kids with series-designed drawings, but for little masterpieces made with love and care in which, sometimes, text remains in a second place.

 

 

 

Alfredo González, “De Moscú a Nueva York”, 1989

 

 

 

The Illustration National Award started in 1978, though during the first thirty years the aim of this recognition was to reward a work of illustration, unpublished in Spain, of an infant or youth publication. Since 2008, the line of this award has changed, and now it is devoted to the artistic career that the author, as an illustrator, has developed into the Spanish literature realm.

 

 

 

Alfredo González, “Teoría de Madrid”, 1980

 

 

 

This year the award was granted to Alfredo González “due to his dilated career, that led him to work in different spots of Spain and the world, to his cultivation of different aspects of illustration and to his teaching and influence into following generations”, as the Ministry has stated. This author, graduated in Philosophy and Theology, worked for many years in the advertising sphere, a profession that led him to live in numerous countries before he returned to Spain.

 

 

 

Alfredo González. “Nueva York”, 1995

 

 

 

Alfredo devoted to illustration 65 years of his life. He collaborated in media like EL PAÍS, La Codorniz, El Jueves, El Papus, Muy Sr. Mío, Cambio 16, La Calle or El Mundo. He also illustrated works in cooperation to writers like Francisco Umbral, in the book entitled Teoría de Madrid, or Ignacio Carrión, in De Moscú a Nueva York. The award arrives at his 84 years old, in a perfect moment, as he himself confesses: “my soul became fluffy with this award, it is the best of all the awards that I have received and it has arrived in the ideal moment”.

 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.