They look at us when we see: from/to the camera in Adrián Fernández’s photography

/ 1 June, 2018

(…) It seems that reflections on photography are forced to always stop, before and after, in the complex relation between this artistic means and time. The photographic image—the fruit of the analogue or the product of the digital; manipulated in the framing, in the negative’s exposition, in the development, or in the stream of bits that flow between the microscopic quartz of the computers—, designed to capture and isolate a moment, to separate a segment of history, inexorably attempts against the passing of time when focusing it. (…)

Adrián Fernández, in his varied work—and, already by now, notable for its extension and depth—has that power of redeemer referred to by Berger, with the attention paid to detail and the coherence we would expect from the best historian. Gathered in groups or series, at times concatenated and complementary, his images speak of an interest in registering and documenting epochs. A registry of the historic, especially concentrated in a material culture, in the universe of the artificial and the constructed. Until now, a characteristic of his work consists in illuminating, capturing the inanimate. If Diego himself, in another of his famous poems, set off to “call things by their name,” we could say that Adrián for his part has immersed himself in taking pictures of them. (…)

With The Threshold of Uncertainty, Adrián continues the gradual enlargement of the space taken up by his work, which, for now, maintains its center in the creation of photographic images (…) a road that on occasions can be associated to the commercial world, of the ads and of the presentation of a product to the market (…) a precise technical display, (…) that informs the conception as well as the creation, impression and installation of the images.

(…) These photos lead us to remember a very important zone of Cuban art of the 1980s and 1990s, that in which the representation of events and historic characters merged with popular religious traditions, especially with the Christian iconography of Cuba and of Latin America. (…)

Formed in Cuban academies, and familiarized with the history of western art, Adrián seems to incorporate in his recent work some of the essential notions (the dark backgrounds; the dosage and softness of the contrasts; the fundamental attention to light to create an intimate sensation, capture the volumes and, at the same time, emphasize dramatics) established by the pioneers in the field of photography of sculptures (…).

With El umbral…, Adrián summons us to simultaneously consider the characteristics of these two artistic forms of expression and some of the specific ways in which they interact. (…) When stopping on the evident marks of the wearing out and the passage of time, Adrián facilitates the symbols of the supernatural becoming familiar, intimately human. He also achieves it when he takes a picture of the reverse, of the back of the figures. That point of view, when evading the familiarity of the frontal perspective, shows the characters in a position that approaches them and makes them vulnerable. This, in turn, allows us to appreciate these objects—the holy and the ritual that they incarnate—with a degree of unusual intimacy. In this way the figures have been lightened to a certain extent from their solemnity. The humanization is a key result of the way in which these photos represent the sculptures. In this sense, to me the portraits of wrinkled, consumed faces seem extraordinary. In their glass or wooden eyes, and in the unfathomable melancholy of their repainted and torn faces, I believe I see an image that illustrates to perfection a beautiful idea of Berger about visibility. (…)

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