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Diálogos de la mirada

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 00:45 Written by Angélica Abelleyra    
Constructing the Photographer´s Eye
Portraits of Norma Patiño
(Excerpt from the book Diálogos de la mirada)
Angélica Abelleyra
Traducción: Luis Argudín

Mystery. Depth. Layer upon layer of appearances and meanings. The repeated questioning of the visible. 1The construction of the face and its surroundings. That grimace and that frown; like cotton and silk folds before a coy gaze; the hand distracted and several frozen blinks. In that amount of artifice that is the portrait, Norma Patiño explores the external characteristics which mark the identity of each scenario, thus making us search inward, deep into each sitters personality. She stalks them, drawing them out of their bodies, for at least an instant, establishing a visual bridge made of visions in perpetual construction, going both ways, between the photographer and his model.

In times like these, when the so called selfies ( smartphone self-portraits) are everpresent, and the visual recording on mobile devices drowns our experience of the world, the artfull making of the photographed face would seem even more necessary : the relevance of the portrait as a “mise en scene”, a staging of layers upon layers of meaning. "2

These wrappings reveal signals, traces, marks of each person unveiled through the scrutiny of Norma Patiño, not only as masks and wrinkles, but in her eagerness to "deal with people´s emotions and to establish a dialogue, a kind of seductive interference "growing from the essential pleasure that the photographer ascribes herself as a right, the profound pleasure of observation: "the tension with what´s human, and an aspiration of movement within the hermetic character of the portrait as a genre, so as to apprehend some spark of novelty that will nurture each shot." 3

With youthful aspirations towards a practice in painting, Norma Patiño soon desisted, when she found herself clumsy in the know how of techniques which she encountered in her daily life, thanks to the proximity of an uncle who was a painter. She then attended a workshop at the Academy of San Carlos, with photographer Kati Horna, where she understood that the camera could solve, in a different way, what painting did with oils and brushes. Through photography, she started to build scenarios: first there were bodies of recumbent men, somewhat like deeply sensual pagan Christs in their glazes of flesh; Then came built landscapes, still life objects, and the female nude: all influenced by the pictorial and the theatrical.

Norma Patiño works daily towards the manifestation of her inner self. She does it through her passion for history, the exploration of the past which inspires her, gives her certainty and the strength to define her theoretical and visual research. In the near future, she has told us, her attention will focus on photography and violence. This will also serve her as a stepping stone to dig into her own personal history, most recently, where she is accompanied by other women who, like her, have a story of survival in their triumphant struggle against cancer. She will walk the path of that other “citizenship”, of which Susan Sontag4 spoke, the nocturnal side of life which is disease, because ultimately she, they, have come full circle and are back again in a solar geography.

1 “Photography is more a product that questions the visible, than one that provides it.” François Soulages, Aesthetics of Photography, La Marca, 2005, p. 109
2 Susan Sontag, On Photography, Alfaguara, 2006, p. 224
3 Angélica Abelleyra, Interview with Norma Patiño,, 20 of May, 2014
4 Susan Sontag, On Sickness and its Metaphores, Suma de letras, 2006

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