“Boas Noites” records nightlife in rural villages of Galicia, treating each subject as part of a community and revealing through portraiture all kinds of social and psychological connections. Gestures, attitudes and expressions are directly drawn from what each subject choose to show or hide, without any mediation or conditioning on the artist’s side. Thus, this is a youth devoid of any idealization. Selected archetypes are gathered here in search of a general impression of a space in time.
Awards & Exhibitions
· Finalist PhotoEspaña. 2016
· Edita: Secuencia/Sentido. CGAC. Santiago de Compostela. 2015
· Athens Photo Festival. Benaki Museum. 2016
[...] Young people are willing to do anything in order to belong and be accepted by the group. They are migrants arriving into their bodies as one would arrive into a new territory: an uncharted territory whose exploration depends on others. The journey has not been easy: defenceless in the face of reality, lacking answers, saying goodbye to childhood, to protection, to home. The world becomes the territory of truth, where there was trust before. Borders are shattered. Childhood places are your places, the adolescent is a being expelled from the space that was hers. Suddenly everything is unfamiliar: even our own bodies, which become superfluous, uncomfortable, often irritable. With age we tend to forget about the degree of courage necessary for our teenage selves to encounter the other: the uncertainty, the splendour, the desire, the sheer organic drive that carried us forth into the other. Because youth can only find itself through others; others are the ones who uncover us and portray us, be those others love or be they the substances disassembling the old order of childhood and leading us to unknown urges. Time begins to contract. It is a time of urgency and dissatisfaction. Everything becomes necessary. This is why, when we look at these portraits, we are looking, in a certain way, into a broken mirror: some of its pieces reflect what we once were and is now lying dormant within us, like a ghost incessantly asking the question: Who are you? What has become of you? These are unavoidable questions in adult life. Somehow, these youngsters are looking into the eyes of the adults they will one day become: and, in this sense, their gaze —their questioning— is devastating.
— David Pérez Iglesias. They emerge from the dark, like flowers of the night. (Extract)
* “Boas Noites” (Good Night) has been edited with two different covers.
Having trained in Fine Arts and photography and endorsed by numerous awards as well as by national and international exhibitions, the artist Jesús Madriñán (Santiago de Compostela, 1984) draws on his own experience and the surrounding context in order to create his works. His production arises from the need to find a visual transposition for the ideas and thoughts that assail him in ordinary and apparently inconsequential situations.
Visually striking and impeccably finished, Madriñán’s photographs are attractive and fascinating due to their honesty and closeness. However, the greatest achievement of his work does not lie in capturing the viewer’s attention but in keeping it long enough for the image to become a portal through which reflections of a more intimate and profound nature can be proposed.
Even though his beginnings were linked to graphic design and advertising, Madriñán has recently focused his experiments on the subversion of studio photography, breaching its traditional parameters in order to explore the subtle line that divides reality and fiction. His works are rooted in the contradiction that arises from using a painstakingly detailed and predictable technique in scenarios that are inevitably fleeting and elusive. In his photographs the artist resorts to a classic genre – portraiture – with the aim of exploring the processes that lead to the construction of young people’s identity, while at the same time displacing that very genre outside of its usual context.
Simultaneously, Madriñán’s characters belong to a broad age segment, intrinsically ephemeral and in constant redefinition: youth. The choice of such a particular population group is motivated, on the one hand, by the artist’s generational affiliation and, on the other, by the vulnerability and lack of protection that these youngsters exhibit in front of the lens. Their gestures, attitudes and expressions are directly drawn from what they themselves choose to show or hide, without any mediation or conditioning on the artist’s side. Thus, this is a youth devoid of any idealization; it is real and tangible, confused, fragmented and transitional but, in spite of everything, it possesses its own entity.
From a conceptual perspective, the Compostelan artist defies Western portraiture by deliberately demystifying a genre traditionally linked to wealth and power, while simultaneously subverting the very nature of portraits as mere descriptive documents. The return to analogical photography, the elevated cost of the technique chosen for his projects and the transience of the context impose a limited margin of error that turns every opening of the shutter into a leap without a safety net. The parameters that can be controlled – light intensity, focal length – are all carefully calculated; the rest relies on spontaneity. Consequently, each sitter is always voluntary, always anonymous and always unique.
At first glance the images of Madriñán may resemble Baroque tenebrist paintings or old black-and-white family photographs, with a caveat: through them, Madriñán questions himself and exposes us to a series of direct, intriguing, curious and often inquisitive gazes that never offer definitive answers. His portraits are not meant to act as an informative report but rather as an emotional radiography.
Madriñan’s images are invested with the magnetism of discordance, one that emerges from the contradiction between the theme and its finish. Their serenity and stillness challenge the viewer and stir evocation because their estrangement from the anecdote keeps them at a distance that universalizes their subjects. Hence, his figures become timeless characters of a disturbingly familiar universe where it seems inevitable to wonder whether their artificiality and solitude are also our own.
— Monse Pis Marcos
Bachelor of Fine Arts by the University of Barcelona, he holds a masters degree in Photography for the Central Saint Martins School (London).
Jesus Madriñan´s career counts with a number of individual exhibitions amongst which are outstanding: “La Finca”, Monotrentuno Festival, Italy, “Looking for Something”, We Are Arts Galery, Londres, “Slow Motion” –Centro Terrente Ballester, Ferrol—,and the exhibitions dedicated to his series “Good Night London” in the Cultural Centre Kavlin de Punta del Este, Uruguay, and in the Spanish Cultural Centers in Mexico D.F and Montevideo.
Apart from this, he took part in highly regarded festivals and art fairs: PhotoEspaña, Paris Photo, ARCO or the International Photography Awards in New York. Regarding his collective exhibitions he took part in: “Contexto Crítico. Fotografía Española s.XXI”, curated by Museology (Rosa Olivares, Alberto Sánchez Balmisa) and organized from the Ministry of Culture in the Espacio Promoción del Arte Tabacalera (Madrid), “P2P. Prácticas Contemporáneas en la fotografía española”, cured by Charlotte Cotton, Luis Diaz Díaz and Iñaki Domingo, organized from PhotoEspaña, and “Edita: Secuencia/Sentido”, cured by Miguel von Hafe for the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea.
He combines all these cores with contributions to the commercial field and active teaching. He has worked as an associate teacher in Universidad Autónoma del Caribe, Colombia, and at present he does chores for The New York Times, ABANCA, Florentino and the advertising agency Shackleton.