as part of Month of Photography Off
March 17 – April 22, 2023
As part of this year’s Month of Photography Off, janinebeangallery presents the series „Tenebris Somniorum“ by Spanish artist Jose Girl.
Jose Girl, born in 1977 in Zaragoza, is a Spanish artist who has lived in California since 2010. The artist’s photographic work is deeply rooted in Spanish and Latin American culture.
To date, Jose Girl has exhibited her work primarily in California, Spain and Mexico. She has also directed or art directed several documentaries and music videos. To date, the artist has published three photography volumes („Bunbury, En Plano Secuencia,“ 2015; „Tesoro, Diario Fotográfico HDS Tour 2007,“ 2008; „El Aragonés Errante,“ 2006).
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.
The 5th edition of the Month of Photography-Off Berlin will take place from 3/17/2023 to 4/30/2023 in galleries and institutions in Berlin.
The festival starts shortly after the opening of EMOP (European Month of Photography Berlin), to which the Month-Off offers a complement and extension. In March there is the opportunity to visit the approximately 130 locations of the two festivals in Berlin. In April the 30 exhibitions of the Monat-Off still continue.