Japanese eyes
Digital photography printed on watercolour paper
TRIP´s space , ArteBA, 2006 / Isidro Miranda Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008 / Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008 /Arte x Arte Gallery, Bueno Aires, Argentina, 2009

Japanese eyes is a series of digital photographies copied in watercolor paper. Taking ultra over exposed direct shots of nature in summer middays, I obtained these burned but colorful images. This technique allowed me to show all the colors hided in the black shadows.

Painting and photography. when the medium is not the message

by Judith Savloff

You will want to stay a little longer enjoying Martín Bonadeo's (1975) twigs. Simple and delicate as Japanese prints. Translucent, warm, like watercolors. This may be because, in addition to being beautiful, these images extend the illusory Zen-like quality of this January Friday evening, when the wind eases and Buenos Aires, the hallways and the rooms of the Centro Cultural Recoleta become almost deserted.

Indeed, it makes you want to stay a little longer in this state. But the title of the show, Pintura y fotografía. Desplazamientos y fusiones, suggests thinking about the flow between techniques, how they whisper, talk, satirize and, in the case of Bonadeo's work, the way the are camouflaged, deceiving. Is this harmonic sensation making it hard to write that these works are, a priori, a “lie”?

No. Even before starting to think about all these issues, as paralysis is overcome by charm, these little leaves become stranger and stranger. Veinless, and of pinkish and blueish hues, they are definitely disturbing. The label tells us that Bonadeo is not a painter. That he doesn’t use brushes nor inks. That he only uses a camera to take highly overexposed pictures. His works are light pictures, “shadows discovering its colors”, pure photography, naked. Nothing here is what it seems to be, and the artist doesn't lie, he reveals.

Ana Martínez Quijano, the curator, puts it this way: “If painting determines a more detached point of view from reality than photography, the images created by these artists are moving away from the represented object. All of them are in search of the hidden sides of things.” […] Since the last decades of the 19th century, when photography became widespread, photography and painting are permanently inter influenced. In one of the hundreds of essays written on the subject, Antonio G. Garcia, says: “The first daguerreotype images shocked classicism and romanticism, the trends of the moment, also causing the first favorable reaction to it, Delacroix, and against it, Ingres. The new image caused an impact on the Academicists, Orientalists, 'Pompiers', Victorians and Pre-Raphaelites. The painters of the Barbizon School, led by Corot, had shared their approach to nature with the first photographers, to exchange a new style of landscape painting and photography full of reciprocal influences, Naturalism, that many consider the precursor of the Impressionist movement led by Monet.”

At first, photography was at the service of painting, relieving it from the duty of copying and creating spaces for other subjective realities. And then photography earned a place among the fine arts, documenting and going beyond that, with pieces such as Grete Stern's famous selfportrait reflected on the mirror-ball or the ghostly auras of Man Ray's rayograms. But the technique, the medium, is not the message in this show, at least it is not the only one. Martínez Q. also wrote: “When reality ceases to be solid and stable, when it adopts kaleidoscopic forms and becomes elusive, photography and painting adopt new and intimate relationships. Thus, fictional or photographic mise-en-scènes reveal the displacements and fusions of the artistic practice. In this imprecise territory, reality seems contaminated, imaginary and full of subjectivity.” Isn’t this what happens when viewing Monet's celebrated Water Lilies?

Fugitive reality Catalog text – fragment –

by Ana Martínez Quijano, curator of the show: Pintura y fotografía. Desplazamientos y fusiones. Painting and Photography. Displacements and fusions – translation by Alicia Steimberg

The influence exercised from its very beginnings by photography over painting has afforded a new way of seeing reality through the eyes of the camera, and has provoked the desire of representing the world with objective precision. But when reality ceases to be solid and stable, when it adopts kaleidoscopic forms and becomes elusive, photography and painting adopt new and intimate relationships.

Thus, fictional or photographic mise-enscènes reveal the displacements and fusions of the artistic practice. In this imprecise territory, reality seems contaminated, imaginary and full of subjectivity. If the nature of painting determines a type of vision more distant from reality than its photographic counterpart, Martín Bonadeo's images are equally further apart from the represented object. What we see in his photos, what the photos present to our eyes, are radiances and mirages. Bonadeo is looking for the hidden face of things. And this desire to arrive at what is distant, to the heart of things, seems to transport his works to that place occupied by the art that populates museums, that place where the aura, that unique phenomenon of a distance, is conjectured [...]

Martín photographs some branches that immediately remind us of Japanese engravings. With a mechanical medium he seems to capture the gesture, the hand of the painter. But the stroke of the pen filled with ink that runs on the paper has never happened, it is just an illusion. Nothing manual has been performed in these direct shots of the highest overexposure; we are confused by the deceptive light and the shadow that with this process reveals its color. [...]

(Nature/Technology) Catalog text – fragment –

by Jorge Zuzulich, Intersecciones: tecnología naturaleza subjetividad

– Intersections: Technology nature subjectivity – show curator Translation by María José Ferrari […] Likewise, Martín Bonadeo’s series Ojos de alcancía (Japanese eyes, 2006), works on the notion of making visible what is invisible. In this series of unretouched digital photographs, Bonadeo seems to support Benjamin’s reflections. His photographs on vegetation are overexposed, an effect that offers two different ways for the contemplation of objects.

First, overillumination, created by the possibilities a technological device offers, lets the spectator grasp a chromaticity space covered in shadow. What we cannot see in the dark becomes visible thanks to technical caption of the image.

Furthermore, the technical process itself seems to be concealed. Overexposure makes photography become similar to a totally handmade technique: watercolor. The work, when printed, shows a pictorial feature, not necessarily pictorialistic. Photography does not aim at resembling painting in order to become legitimate, but photography as an already legitimate artistic practice intends to fuse with painting so as to hybridate itself, to question the establishment of the severe differentiation between painting and the technical image.

In this sense, Bonadeo’s work may be thought as playing a critical role for it asserts the statement of the French art historian Didi-Hubermann: “To show something is always to unsettle the eye.” […]

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