Ramón Masats and Carlos Pérez Siquier in conversation with Laura Terré
Screening of the documentary Afal, una mirada libre, by Alberto Gómez Uriol
This encounter, held in relation to the exhibition An Approach to Afal. The Autric-Tamayo Donation, recollects the central space occupied by the Afal collective in post-war Spanish photography. A conversation between two of its leading figures, photographers Ramón Masats and Carlos Pérez Siquier, and the show’s curator, Laura Terré, will be followed by the screening of Alberto Gómez Uriol’s documentary Afal, una mirada libre (Afal, a Free Gaze), which assembles declarations from the majority of its members.
In the mid-1950s, the Afal photographic collective brought together a group of young Spanish photographers through an eponymous magazine, published between 1956 and 1963. The concept of the project, the brainchild of Almería natives José María Artero García and Carlos Pérez Siquier, was open to new viewpoints, differing from those excluded from the official or salonista photography, the latter a term used by Oriol Maspons to refer to the restrictive nature of juries in photography awards. Afal would employ Neo-realist photography, highlighting the contradictions of 1950s and 1960s Spanish society: underdevelopment, rural exodus, the influence of religion on education and public life, the birth of tourism, these were some of the themes to spark the group’s interest. Despite their diversity, the collective still managed to marry a spirit of sincerity and commitment, reflected in different series and reportage. “The group formed its ideology on the basis of joining discrepancies and hopes and expectations,” writes Laura Terré.
Afal’s eager approach was a challenge to the reactionary post-war landscape of Spain’s photography, outlasting the collective itself, and reflected in the careers of many of its members and supporters: the aforementioned Carlos Pérez Siquier (Almería, 1930), Ramón Masats (Caldes de Montbui, 1931), Leopoldo Pomés (Barcelona, 1931), Joan Colom (Barcelona, 1922–2017), Ricard Terré (Barcelona, 1928-Vigo 2009), Gabriel Cualladó (Massanassa, 1925-Madrid 2003), Joaquín Rubio Camín (Gijón, 1929-2006), Oriol Maspons (Barcelona, 1928–2012), Alberto Schommer (Vitoria, 1928–2015), Xavier Miserachs (Barcelona, 1937–1998) and Francisco Ontañón (Barcelona, 1930-Madrid, 2008), among others.
Ramón Masats. Winner of the National Photography Award in 2004. In addition to being part of the Afal group, in 1959 he and other photographers founded the La Palangana collective. His images were published in pioneering photobooks like Neutral corner (1962), Los Sanfermines (1963) and Viejas Historias de Castilla la Vieja (1964). After many years working in cinema, he returned to photography in the 1980s.
Carlos Pérez Siquier. Winner of the National Photography Award in 2003. In 1956 he was among the founders of the Afal group and its magazine (1956–1963), and has displayed his work on numerous occasions, including the exhibitions Four Directions (Museo Reina Sofía, 1997) and Pérez Siquier: la mirada (Pérez Siquier: The Gaze, Fundación Telefónica, 2005).
Laura Terré. Photography historian. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona and has conducted in-depth research into the generation of Spanish photographers from the Afal group. She is the curator of the exhibitions Miserachs. Epílogo imprevisto (Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera, 2018), Colita, perquè si! (Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera, 2014), The Afal Photographic Group (1956-1963) (2017) and An Approach to Afal. The Autric-Tamayo Donation (2018), the last two in the Museo Reina Sofía.