La Palangana

Art, Photography
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La Palangana

The collective of La Palangana (comprised of Fernando Gordillo, Francisco Ontañón, Gabriel Cualladó, Gerardo Vielba, Joaquín Rubio Camín, Juan Dolcet, Leonardo Cantero, Paco Gómez, Ramón Masats and Sigfrido de Guzmán) marked a turning point in Spanish photography of the 1950s, and they did it with a profound reformist consciousness. Far from the prevailing academia, humans and their everyday lives were the group's starting point, and they worked on the outskirts of cities and towns to get what they wanted. Though this sounds perfectly ordinary to us today, it was something bordering on revolutionary at the time and somehow signified the beginning of Spanish Neorealism. In modern terms, we could say their work was social photojournalism. The name of the collective, by the way, is owed to a photograph by Francisco Ontañón, where portraits of the six founders are in a basin ('palanga') to be viewed. This work is also on display in the exhibition.

Why see it? This exhibition is one of the highlights of PhotoEspaña 2014 and shows how Spanish photography moved into the modern age. The Reina Sofía honored this group (little known in its day) a few years back and now we get a chance to see this piece of Spanish art history in the Círculo de Bellas Artes and understand the process by which the photographic language of the day turned to a more human and social point of view, a new critical and documentary spirit.