Luis Gonzalez Palma: Photographic Works

Several sepia toned photographic portraits, some punctuated with white, hang on the walls of a gallery space.

Installation view, Luis Gonzalez Palma: Photographic Works, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 1997. Archival slide image.

Hayden Gallery
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Luis Gonzalez Palma
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Luis Gonzalez Palma: Photographic Works presents this Guatemalan architect and artist for the first time to the Boston area.

Gonzalez Palma portrays individual Mayans residing in Guatemala City not to document the contemporary urban scene, but rather to delve into deeper psychological issues. He poses his subjects with theatrical costumes and symbolic trappings such as angel wings, flowers, crowns, or skulls in order to reflect upon the position of the Mayans as an ethnic minority in Guatemala.

The photographs are toned with sepia and treated with bitumen to create a sense of a faded, faraway time. Gonzalez Palma then often scratches the eyes of his subjects down to the original white paper, setting up an intense contact with the glance of the spectator. The works are often defaced, torn and restitched to imply the presence of violence and an uneasy passage through history.

The artist has said “The situation in Guatemala is, like that of many other countries in the Third World, very critical. But I am not interested only in expressing this marginalized condition but in the consciousness of solitude and a reflection on the fragility and temporary nature of life. The indigenous face has been really a poetic metaphor of this awareness of solitude, not only of a human group but of all mankind. Of course my country causes me pain, just as the human race causes me pain.”

The nearly twenty works in the exhibition have been lent by collectors in New York and Chicago.