Brauli Teixido Fo (Validfoto Gallery, Barcelona) about Alavaro Sanchez-Montanes’ art
Alvaro Sanchez-Montanes is a photographer that despite appearances does not make up the scenes he presents to us, as some performers in the 60’s and 70’s did.The photographic record we see, in Alvaro’s case, is actually the depiction of an action which happened in his surroundings, as seen and captured at the precise moment, like photographers have classically done, especially French humanists or photojournalists in general. That is what produces images like a dog jumping from a wall, frozen in its flight, while its master gives it the instructions to execute the exercise. This scene would probably go unnoticed for a casual observer, but not for Alvaro. The image could lead us to think the action was enacted to be photographed. It was certainly necessary for the dog to repeat the jump several times, but the photographer’s part was that of a simple bystander who spotted it by chance. He chose a position and an angle and picked up the image from those few he could take in the little time the action happened. The final result is a spontaneous and amusing street image.
The same applies for the scene of a young man performing somersaults on the beach or the black person apparently posing next to a stop sign or even the back of the head of a dog in front of a bunker that looks like a monster defiantly coming out of the sea.
In other occasions the photographer seems to be waiting for some event he has already seen to happen again and be captured at a moment when a certain emotional peak is reached, being this emotion what he seeks to transmit. That happens with the image of a plane just before landing taken from the ground a short distance away, or that of a beach lit at night without its swimmers and sunbathers or that of a steaming hot water lake in Iceland. Therefore, unlike common practice in contemporary photography nowadays, Alvaro does not elaborate sophisticate creative strategies to obtain impacting images, he rather embraces the look of the classic lonely photographer on the alert for what happens around him to capture it and present it to us.
Sometimes we could also say that he is tempted to catalogue images, as was historically done by Bern and Hilla Becher and their countless advocates. Thus, we find pictures of dull modest constructions, tiny houses scattered throughout forlorn sceneries in Iceland who would remain unnoticed had he photographer not appreciated their prominence within their surrounding landscape and composed with them a little catalogue of great visual beauty.
Nothing seems to escape the eye of Alvaro Sanchez-Montanes, who even fixes his attention on sordid spaces with visually unattractive objects and scenes, transforming them through his particular approach into extremely interesting compositions. This complies with the principle that all subjects are valid for art, specially so for photography, if the artist’s sensitive perception is able to extract from it something not noticeable by most people without that intermediation, thus ‘re-presenting’ it to us. Let us consider for instance Alvaro’s Shangai streets at night to appreciate his capacity to transform and ‘re-present’ banal-looking things, such as bags outside the back door of an anonymous restaurant, into aesthetic objects.
Likewise he is able to transmute a deserted landscape where devastated vegetation seems to claim for heavenly mercy, into a surreal setting, silent and ghostly but full of light. This applies for his series ‘Minimal Landscapes’ or ‘Indoor Desert’.
Finally he is also capable of registering magnificence with a serene vision, not indulging in the monstrous opulence of an urban agglomeration like Shangai, but rather making the grey shades of smog convert skyscrapers into kind constructions of rare beauty. This same scenery seen from the coast is mollified by the colourful presence of a reddish ship wreck which perfectly matches the grey skyscrapers and the blue sea.
Alvaro is also a follower of the great masters of colour in contemporary photography headed by Eglestton and Shore. Thanks to his use of colour, his images gain attractive contrasts they would not probably have in black and white. In short, he is a photographer whose palette of colours compose the studium and punctum of his work and make it more compelling to the observer.
© Bleek Magazine. Text: Brauli Teixido.