25.11.2022 - 19.02.2023
Curator: Alejandro Castellote
The curator Alejandro Castellote has built his exhibition discourse based on the work of 8 artists from different parts of Asia, and with very different works in content and form, but which allow us to address a really interesting starting thesis. And it is that, as indicated in the title of the exhibition, the photographs make us "promises", but we must investigate and dive into the works to unravel their true meaning. The easy identification of what is represented in them, their veracity and their fidelity to reality must be questioned. As a rule, when we see a photograph we trust in the transparency of its meaning, we believe that its eloquence can surpass verbal language, and we expect that all of this is available to us in the first visible layer of the photograph, in its visual "texture".
A good part of its success as a communication tool is based on the properties it exhibited in the past: photography came to offer a solid vision of reality. The transcription of the world in images ceased to depend exclusively on memory in its different accounts —verbal and written— and on scientific and artistic representations, with all the eventual subjectivities and inaccuracies that such documents could contain.
When the first visible layer of a photograph has little narrative thickness, it requires an access code, a text that accompanies the work and acts as a password. The introductory texts of a series, the banners or the photo captions often serve this purpose. This non-visual information opens the doors to the understanding of the photographs. It is a way of reducing the polysemy of images, the multiple meanings that can be extracted from them.
If we recognize what a photograph represents, but we don't know the author's intention, then our imagination is activated, we speculate about what it can mean and we do it using our own experiences, the emotions that that first perception arouses in us. However, this process is complicated when the signs contained in the photographs do not have cultural contiguity. This is the case of signs and traditional models of representation used in some Asian countries. Cultural referents are essential to understand an image. Knowing where the photograph is taken from and from where we look at what is photographed.
This exhibition brings together big names in photography in Asia with young artists. They come from China, Japan, Singapore, India and South Korea. All of them exhibit different ways of representing reality, often willingly eroding the readability of their works. They do so through vague references to the traditional painting of their country, claiming in a low voice the secular origin of their artistic practices; questioning the orientalist stereotypes that we project from the West; disregarding the parameters of Renaissance representation —perspective, narrative or hyperrealism—; proposing complex readings of what is represented, which encourage the viewer to look for something more in the inner layers of the image, the less explicit ones, or critically reflecting on our relationship with nature. They use visual metaphors to make visible the deeply subjective nature of our perception and the instability of memory and the historical narrative. They transport the meanings of their images to territories that multiply the possible interpretations. In short, they promote ambiguity to activate our imagination.