Javier Campano (Madrid 1950) teaches himself photography and begins professionally in 1975. His beginnings are linked to the magazine Nueva Lente, a publication that sought to break with the previous vision of clear and documentary photography, to approach a more conceptual one. Both the magazine and the school Photocentro, were the seed from which a new generation of photographers in Madrid sprouted, including, apart from Campano, Alberto García-Alix and Ouka Leele, with marked stylistic differences between them, but with a common interest to portray nearby worlds. In this way this group of photographers reflects on all the figures and scenes in the open Madrid they lived, in a close, friendly and creative relationship with other artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians.
The major players in Campano’s photograph are the city and urban interiors, from his first exhibitions in the Buades and Amadis galleries. These rooms welcomed the new generation of artists who aspired to a renewal based on the legacy of the avant-garde and the uptake of the new and vital aesthetic climate of the political transition.
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía organised a retrospective dedicated to this artist, observer of minor details or passengers, shadows, reflections, old street signs, pieces of people or buildings. Campano avoids the monumental city of the drama of figures. In the cities he photographs, the artist looks for environments and places whose disappearance seems imminent, or instances and atmospheres that exist only in the camera, sometimes humorously and often melancholically. His photographs show a series of surfaces, sometimes geometrically, constructed in a way that looks casual. There are rarely complete figures in his images; fragmentary visions are frequent, shadows or reflections of people at windows and in mirrors. Allusions to humans often appear through hats, mannequins or objects carelessly left in a hotel room, one of his most photographed sites.
Some of Campano's major works are the result of commissions, such as exhibition at IVAM in 1998 dedicated to the rationalist architecture of Valencia, or the five book catalogues of Portuguese cities. In them he photographs in colour for the first time, and expresses outstandingly well a certain Portugal: its frequently colourful architecture, traditional cafés, its yesteryear shops, or advertisements from another time.