SYMBOLOGY AND GOLD LEAF IN MARÍA JOSÉ GALLARDO

Visiting the work of María José Gallardo is, at times, like entering a second-hand market, finding a space between its shelves and collecting the strangest things, most connected with the dark side of religion and death. Incomplete tarot decks, unpaired earrings, faded metal boxes, cracked photos, crosses and skulls, make up a sample of dissonant elements that, in the work of this artist, acquire meaning and entity. It is an invitation to an initiatory journey, a way that confronts us with an unexplored part of our minds and that often wakes up before the vividness of a memory.

Mariajosé Gallardo

El templo de las estrellas, 2017

Óleo, esmalte / lienzo

81 x 65cm

Mariajosé Gallardo

Catedral, 2016

Óleo, esmalte, pan de oro / lienzo

100 x 81cm

Her artistic proposal is based on a mixture of styles that plays with the misunderstanding and the multiple possibilities of painting, such as her work "You may not be luminous, but you are a conductor of light" where pixelated vegetable motifs are identified, which could seem a blur cross-stitch embroidery or a 17th-century tapestry framed between scrolls of gilded wood. His pieces rarely include a single element. They are presented as allegories of the complexity of human thought itself, of the warp of ideas and sensations that link us with the object reality of our environment, and which the artist represents with an aesthetic that feeds on Rococo and Horror Vacui, on the Baroque religious imagery and contemporary illustration based on sharp contrasts and angular contours.

Mariajosé Gallardo

1917, 2017

Óleo, esmalte, pan de oro / lienzo

100 x 81cm

Mariajosé Gallardo

Coco III, 2017

Óleo, esmalte, pan de plata / lienzo

100 x 81cm

Although throughout her career María José has worked on several proposals with different and even risky themes, such as the series dedicated to Hitler and Nazism, an essential aspect of her work is the presence of the symbol. It is that element capable of condensing immaterial values that the social-individual attributes to the object. Many of her works recover those meanings, which go from the esoteric to the earthly, from the connections with religious beliefs to their projection on more mundane and materialistic aspects such as representations of power, wealth or social position. María José addresses these issues, respecting to a large extent the traditional depiction of these spheres, which preserve their particular aesthetic and whose artistic tradition goes back to the beginnings of iconography (religious or not) in the West. For this reason, the recourse to gold leaf and the reproduction of spaces of worship, such as cathedrals or temples, has a deep connection with spirituality and the way in which the collectives have transferred this spirituality to tangible reality.

Mariajosé Gallardo

Mascota. Cuervo, 2017

Óleo, esmalte, pan de oro / lienzo

46 x 38cm

Mariajosé Gallardo

Mascota. Gato, 2017

Óleo, esmalte, pan de oro / lienzo

46 x 38cm

The works of the exhibition "In the enchanted forest" are a catalogue of magical beings, those who inhabit the usual corners of fairy tales and who make their appearance among branches of flowers and rays of light. But true to her style, María José displays all her pictorial potential in these pieces, which do not hide a dark side that faces the hackneyed "happy-ending". A narrative is thus constructed closer to the original story of Brothers Grimm. Her proposal looks at us frankly and offers a less truculent and real vision of the history in which we are all invited to participate.

 

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.