Jose Girl

Jose Girl, an internationally recognized photographer from Spain, has made a name for herself through her surreal and profound images. In 2023 we presented her series „Tenebris Somniorum“ (for images go down) – carefully digitally modified photographic allegories which are reminiscent of old master paintings but infused with contemporary elements. Music plays an ever-present role in Jose Girl’s creative process, shaping the nuanced universe she captures in her images.

For the  exhibition The Aura of Rock’n’Roll, Jose Girl and the gallery have selected photographs by the artist that have been taken in recent years and in part have never been presented before. These include portraits of musicians and libertines from the artist’s world.    

Jose Girl “Tenebris Somniorum”

Spanish photographer Jose Girl explores and uncovers recurring dream experiences in her series of photographs titled „Tenebris Somniorum“. She does not merely reproduce the scenes in her works, but transforms them into her own images. The viewer becomes part of a oneironautic reflection.
In accordance with the title (Darkness of Dreams), Jose Girl embeds the motifs of the photographs in this series in dark image edges, which become softly lighter towards the center of the background. The objects and figures in the images display a strong contrast and alternation of light and dark areas, the latter in accordance with said edges.
Textures are striking that—unusual for photographs—resemble those of paintings, yet are applied by Jose Girl to distinguish certain areas and backgrounds or cover entire works. Where this texture is spread on the whole photograph, the structures of the subject are not only softened, but have become amorphous, to the point of at least partial abstraction.
Adequate to the sphere of the dream, overt and hidden symbols are found in the detailed arrangements. This is accompanied by a formal language that is rich in meaning anyway; situations and gestures describe a culminating moment whose more or less dramatic progression and aftermath the viewer may surmise. In these photographs by Jose Girl, the facial features of the portrayed figures are not or hardly shown, which makes them appear somewhat anonymous and generic, resulting rather in depictions of archetypes than of individuals.
Stylistically and thematically, classical borrowings are evident in the photographs: symbolic objects constellated in the manner of traditional still lifes, large and carefully applied baroque drapery, a Rembrandtian dark shadowing of edges and backgrounds, even a wonderful allusion to Francisco de Goya’s „The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters“. Likewise, reminiscences of the Dark Romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries can be found in Jose Girl’s works, for example,
when a female figure lies under water like a drowned body, complete with allegorical props, delicately wrapped in fabric. Her photographs are contemporary, however, not only because of undoubtedly modern objects such as lamps and cars, but also because of the corresponding gesture and scenes that could be more reminiscent of a film noir. And for all the anonymity of the portrayed person’s features, the essence of a modern, strong woman is foregrounded throughout.

The photographer’s visual language, which follows the narrative of the dream, takes the viewer along because of an extraordinary sensitivity to the rhythm of the pictorial elements and the detailed elaborations of an abysmal passion for the twilight of the soul. Here Jose Girl is experienced and navigates her subjects safely through dreamlike scenes that communicate a personal experience as much as they evoke archetypes.