THE TOTAL WORK OF ART

Putting together the concepts "Hydroelectric power station" and "Work of art" in the same sentence can be certainly strange, even more, if finally, both elements come together in reality. This is the result of the work of Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, an architect, painter and sculptor who tackled some of the most ambitious projects on the Spanish scene.

Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, Miranda.

The ICO Museum hosts the exhibition "The beauty of the extraordinary", dedicated to the work of this multifaceted and multidisciplinary creator through five of his largest projects: the Asturian hydroelectric power stations of Salime (1945-1955), Miranda (1956- 62), Proaza (1964-68), Aboño (1969-1980) and Tanes (1980). All of them are the result of a collaboration for more than thirty years with the Cantabrian Hydroelectric Plant.

Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, Proaza.

But why do we talk about total work of art? Joaquín Vaquero was a prolific and ambitious author, obsessed with seeking and creating beauty with his work. His production is very extensive, and this was already the first obstacle to narrow the scope of the showing. Finally, a geographical criterion was chosen: bringing together the five projects developed in Asturias. Though, we are not only talking about an architectural approach to civil construction but a global conception of these structures, in which to combine various artistic disciplines and transform the space.

The Cantabrian Hydroelectric plant approached these projects from a completely innovative perspective for the time. It wanted to break the cold and exclusively functional idea associated with this type of constructions and turn them into a visible symbol of contemporary change, into a work of civil engineering that would bring together the best of artistic disciplines. This totalising effort gathered painting, sculpture, architecture, landscaping, sound, industrial design.

Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, Tanes

The exhibition recreates the artistic richness of these projects with an exhibition design that moves away from the purely architectural approach to emphasise the visual load of the projects. Do not forget that these huge constructions are today a testimony of the peninsular modernism, a style that is appreciated inside and outside every room and that nourished by an unstoppable creative pulse like that of Vaquero Palacios. The exhibition will be open to the public until May 6th.

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.