The common denominator of Valentin Vallhonrat’s (Madrid, 1956) photographic work is the fact that he worked systematically in series. In this way, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía exhibits, in their programme Espacio 1, his series entitled En busca del amor, a project initiated in 1998 and comprised of a total of twelve photographs whose main theme portrays particular types of rooms offered by certain Japanese and American hotels specifically designed for honeymoons or sporadic romantic encounters. The way Vallhonrat approaches his capture of images emphasises the cold and distant, as well as the baroque and ornate, presentation of these rooms. The important focus in these photographs is not narrating about what occurs in the rooms, nor the location where the events happen, but to establish another reference to an over-represented reality, derived from a society that only understands itself through entertainment.
In Vallhonrat’s last series, passions, desires or longings look for other references. Love or sex acquire another focus in the experience of people, determined by how the individual connects their experience with an imagery that doesn’t arise from a strict sense of passion, but of certain creations which the media, media overexposure or abandonment of banal external standards which the definition of the criteria are subject to, are called to build their life experience.
The large size of the pictures in the series highlights the sense of spectacle, baroque and over-ornate, of what is shown. Frontality and symmetry affect the artificiality, recreated and almost anecdotal on the configuration of these spaces. Light, highly concentrated, ends up emphasising the character of scene that become spaces designed more to represent than to live an experience. Thus, En busca del amor becomes a representation of scenography exempt from the anecdote that may arise from actions that they could carry them, which continue along Vallhonrat’s line of interest, by the artifice of photography.
Sala del Patio de Escuelas, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca (October, 2000)
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