Oscar Pintor

Nota publicada en “The Buenos Aires Herald”

por Marjan Groothuis
17 de agosto de 2008.

The Festival de la Luz, the biannual photography festival, is in full swing. There are lots of exhibitions being held all over the place and quite a few of these can be recommended, not least the retrospective of Oscar Pintor in the Centro Cultural Recoleta. To describe this show the word poetic would probably be the best; here splendour can be found in humble objects and surroundings. It is the eye of the photographer, Pintor in this case, which makes them so special and by presenting us with the resulting image he shares the beauty he found with us, a great gift. It is also important to stress that these are direct takes, the pictures haven’t been manipulated or staged, in other words no ‘tableau vivant’ (unfortunately, there is quite a lot of that type of photography around in this festival and ideas are seldom new). Pintor tells us what photography is really about and shows us for example the beauty of an old sweater hanging over a fence of barbed wire, sunlight shining through. Or a boy floating head down in the water, water drops forming a silvery crown of his hair. And what about the San Juan landscapes, simple dwellings, an adobe wall, a primitive chair and impressive skies to match? Maybe it is not surprising that this province features so prominently in his oeuvre, after all this photographer was born in San Juan. Picasso’s ‘I don’t search, I find’ also comes to mind while watching the work of Pintor, surely he is the kind of photographer who doesn’t need to search as he is able to see and capture beauty while he goes along. To me, this show in the Recoleta is by far the best being held there but others also deserve a look. Check out the presentations of the Mexican photographers Graciela Iturbide and Francisco Mata Rosas, the latter showing mostly rather surrealist works dealing with Mexico’s dead cult while the first also often focuses on that country’s obsession with death in general. Furthermore, three exhibitions dealing with the official theme of the Festival de la Luz, namely ‘We’, ‘You’ and ‘They’ respectively curated by Eduardo Gil, Silvia Mangialardi and Juan Travnik.

Meanwhile, at the almost other end of town photographer Rosa Revsin presents ‘Selfportrait with Juan and Malena’ in the Centro Cultural de la Cooperacion (Corrientes 1543). This small but worthwhile show describes through some fifteen large black and white images the fate of children whose childhood is destroyed forever by war. Revsin is no stranger to this theme; in fact she has picked it up more than once, notably in some restrained presentations here and abroad of pictures that capture the mood of poems written by children while being held captive in the Terezin concentration camp. The black and white images in the CCC might be less outspoken, but the message is clear from the start. Even in the first picture there is something in the air, over time smiles disappear and the child becomes as breakable as a porcelain jar, indeed childhood is brutally interrupted. The last image of this presentation shows an image from television, a dead child held high, yet another innocent victim of war. Unfortunately, as Revsin also pointed out, it is not only war that destroys childhood; what about society as such? Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said that if you want a child to be good it is best to make him happy?

Right opposite the CCC, in the San Martin Theatre (Corrientes 1530), two international presentations are being held. Here the American photographer Christopher Rauschenberg describes the poetry of daily life through seemingly simple images, for example a book resting on the edge of a bathtub or a rose in a vase. The other show is about the rituals surrounding pilgrimages in Northern Brazil and it must be said that Christian Cravo (who was born in San Salvador de Bahía) knows how to capture the devotion and belief – indeed surrender – of the people attending these events.

All shows mentioned above will be on until the 31st of August. For more information and opening hours please also check: www.encuentrosabiertos.com.ar