WINTER ART

With the winter around the corner, we make a brief review of how the artists got inspired by this season for their works. These dates are usually associated inevitably with the end of the year and the abundant parties, but the beginning of winter has traditionally been a time celebrated by many cultures as it gives way to a period of growth of days and a stage of preparation for the upcoming cycle. Even Greek mythology has a story for this phenomenon. Demeter, goddess of life and earth, separated from her daughter Persephone, who had been abducted by Hades and condemned to remain in the underworld, agreed to spend half of the year in her company and the other half on Olympus. Demeter was sad in the months when she was not with Persephone, which correspond to autumn and winter, leaving the earth neglected and withered, as opposed to spring and summer, time spent with her daughter.

Camille Pissarro, “Avenue de l’Opera. Efecto Nieve 1”

From the classicism, winter was approached with naturalistic perspective. This approach goes through the different artistic branches and has also served to feed the nineteenth-century narrative that represents this season in a raw way to underline the social differences that many characters of the literature of the time should pass through. As for the visual arts, authors opted for more realistic expressions, an exercise that often served as pictorial analysis on the depiction of the natural state, the changes of light, the reproduction of textures, volumes... in scenes dominated by snow in the rural environment.

Stepan Kolesnikoff, “On the way to market”, 1942

The winter, present with its hardest, implacable and almighty face, composes a mental image fueled to a great extent by the literature of the late nineteenth century as well as by the recurrent representation of realistic painting that began to pay less attention to elitist themes. The flight of pictorial productions of religious content or portraits by order gave way to a real concern for society, for the situation of the individual in their daily lives and the expression of an authentic and not always docile life that required, among other things, facing the winter in unfavourable circumstances. In this naturalistic trend, one sees the will to change the focus of attention of the aristocracy to the ordinary people, and to elaborate an egalitarian discourse that does not highlight the powerful over the weak but treats all individuals equally.

Jason Paul freerunning in Harbin, China © David Robinson

Our perception of this season has changed in recent decades. The linking of these dates with the grand celebrations make up an inseparable whole in which consumerism has absorbed the beginning of the season and almost goes unnoticed. The current representation of winter connects with snowy prints, red lights and smiles on the face. There is, in all this, a search for the ideal beauty, a compositional artifice that floods all our behaviours in society and reaches, even in a false way, the very strength of nature. Today the winter, after having surpassed in the arts the traditional pictorialism, is represented mainly through photography, a discipline that dares to recreate nature in a more wild and challenging. In fact, documentary photography is a very exploited line in our days, and the result is images of high visual impact.

 

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.