Chema Madoz, a literary photographer
Color is my therapy. I love a deep red, a soft peachy yellow, and I could stare at the million shades of blue of the ocean forever. Yet I'm here today to talk to you about... *drum roll...* an exclusively a black and white photographer! We are so easily fooled by a pretty color palette. We get distracted in soft pastels (see every Instagram account 2 years ago) or passional when confronted to a bright and bold picture (see Miles Aldridge), but when we see a black and white image the essence has be strong and the contrast crisp or I'll keep scrolling down for the rainbow. Few contemporary photographers accomplish this and, believe it or not, Sebastiao Salgado is not the only one.
Chema Madoz is my favorite photographer and I have found out he doesn't get the international recognition he deserves. Madoz, originally from Madrid, doesn't take celebrity portraits or travel to faraway lands. Instead, he photographs simple things. Books, utensils, matches and stones are some of the recurring objects found in his imagery. But like a true surrealist, his work is a delightful compilation of visual poems hidden in our everyday lives. With humor and refinement, Madoz has created a universe with great metaphorical power, one that feels familiar, one that evolves and grows without getting redundant despite his seemingly limited tool box.
The elements are minimal in all aspects of his creation. He uses as little equipment as possible, sometimes just his film Hasselblad. His composition is often simply centered and there is no digital manipulation. This reduction of elements makes his imagery all the more magical. How is he able to create a world like his, without cheating? Chema Madoz has simply become aware of the many possibilities hiding behind the common utility of the objects that surround us, and takes full advantage of this versatility, playing with information. He is a fantastic photographer in the eye of the public, but we can't forget there is also an incredible multi-disciplinary artist behind the camera, a conceptualist, a sculptor, a wood worker, an illustrator and an inventor. He has succeeded in what very little artists have, in creating a signature style, in making his toolbox a brand, evolving elegantly within his unique language.
The beauty of Madoz's images lays in their superficial simplicity and intellectual depth. One of the things I love about him is how accessible he is. You don't need an art degree (or any degree at all for that matter) to enjoy his playful imagery. Children are amused by his strange objects and adults stand in awe at concepts so true, simple and clever. At the same time, artists and intellectuals try to find the core of each piece by examining every layer, reading the impeccable lines and digging to find deeper messages. Chema takes the simple thoughts we all have and presents them to us. The viewer can identify to the strange objects and relate to the ideas behind them.
I was lucky enough to see Madoz's gigantic prints while his exhibit "Las Reglas del Juego" was up at Sala Alcalá 31 in Madrid (a fantastic exhibition space!), a couple years ago. Yes, his work is already cool in digital format, but the pristine prints he makes with the help of his assistant are a true work of art, so big that your eyes are able to swim in them. If you get the chance, don't miss out on this incredible experience. Rumor says, he is preparing a big exhibit at the Prado Museum in Madrid this year. Time to plan the trip to the Spanish capital!
A little dadaist, very surrealist and a champion conceptualist, Chema says that he plays with the fact that we take reality as something unalterable, when in actuality, the slightest distortion is enough to turn everything upside down.