Represented by Gallery VU'
Spanish. Born in 1958 in Madrid where he currently lives.
A scientist by training and a lover of photography, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto has managed to combine his two passions to become one of the most aware, demanding and subtle photographers in Europe.
After resurrecting the work of thirties portrait photographer, Martin Chambi, by creating prints from glass plates in Cuzco, Prieto developed a passion for Peru. Ten years later, he crossed the country on a âjourney to the sun,â where he finely and artistically portrayed his tenderness for the people, the beauty of the landscape, his curiosity for an often unspoiled culture, and the poverty accompanying this condition.
He then grouped together a collection of strange 20-year-old images he had taken of bare landscapes and still lives to explore photographyâs limits and better understand light. The resulting effect was a tension between fiction and representation.
His work Â«Â ExtraÃ±osÂ Â» he published two years later is dominated by four main themesÂ : sex, death, childhood and intimacy. These oneiric black and white pictures show a singular, ambiguous and mysterious world.
Today he mostly works with colour by using the highly personal tonality of Ethiopia and India to create visions that are both mental and based upon a troubling realism, a form of travel, between dream and materiality, like on the delicacy of impossible shades.
Castro Prieto has become a major photographer and currently continues to work on personal projects which tackle the themes of memory and intimacy.
From Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, to the sacred town of Machu Picchu, following the stream of the Urbamba river, Peru offer to its visitors an extraordinary panorama as well as a journey through time.
Officially discovered in 1911, the ancient city of Machu Picchu remains a mystery on the architectural aspect but also in its social and religious role for the Incas and their Emperor Pachacutec. This historical site that is the highest dead city in the world has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and tourists from the entire world travel there to admire the wonders left by the Inca civilization.
40 kilometres south, located on hillsides, on terraces...
"The Mountains Gods"
The Andes, the land of shamanism, has become an ideal destination for new followers of this practice, who are more and more in the West in this search of mystical experiences.
In the footsteps of the Incan or Tawantinsuyo civilizations, where shamanic rituals were rooted in the populationâs daily life, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto went to meet shamans, attending their surprising rituals and discovering their world.
Today, shamans, healers or diviners still receive people in rooms filled with objects which combine religious symbolism, esotericism and popular believes. They read the future in coca leaves or alcohol, cure all the ills of the body and mind and...
Like with ExtraÃ±os, Equilibrio inestable presents photographs taken in different places and at different times. Both series use the same symbolic language and share similar feeling of unease. But while the photos in ExtraÃ±os showed a lost stability, the images in Equilibrio inestable foretell an imminent rupture. Seemingly softer due to a range of subtle colours, the pictures are however no less oppressive. They are a reflection on the precariousness of happiness and of life, which could - at any moment - plunge into hell.
Two photographic universes, two approaches, two epochs but a common admiration, passion for the Peruvian culture.
While individual or group portraits of Martin Chambi (Coaza, 1891 â Cuzco, 1973) explore and reveal the complexity of the Peruvian society of the early 20th century, its countryside daily life scenes with its peasants are deeply tinged with the poetry, which comes from Inca cultureâs remains.
First native photographer, Chambi was simultaneously anthropologist, art show photographer, photojournalist, militant witness of the birth of the Indian movement in his country, archivist of his own culture and of his countryâs folkloreâ¦Heâs now known as one of the genius of...
In the city center of Beira in Mozambique, overlooking the ocean, the Grand Hotel is still standing even though only the structure remains. Reminiscent of colonial splendor, the luxury flagship of the 50's is now the shelter for a population of squatters, and poor families left behind. Built in 1952, the Grand Hotel Beira was to host Africaâs great fortunes and posh companies. Unfortunately, the customer has always been lacking and the activity collapsed in 1963. The building still opens for conferences and the pool was still used in the 60's until the civil war in Mozambique in 1977.
This is the beginning of a new life for the Grand Hotel Beira which becomes a refugee camp for those...
According to the gourmets, Ethiopian arabica is the best in the world. In Ethiopia, 5 to 10 millions people live on coffee cultivation and sale, that is to say about 12% of the population, especially during the harvests (between October and February). The workers of the 9 Ethiopian plantations earn 30 euros a month.
Arabica plants growing on the slopes of ancient volcanoes red soil are considered the purest in the world. Coffee plants are to Ethiopia what animals are to Kenya. They determine the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Every day, women wash the coffee beans, roast, grind, mix and boil them. A ritual, which can last an hour and a half, and can be repeated up to nine times a day.
â You might be tempted to call these âMemories of SÃ¨teâ. For this is in fact what they are: a recollection of things that no longer exist and indeed had existed only for a few days and during many nights, spent criss-crossing every part of the town in search ofâ¦Of what, exactly? No doubt a little piece of SÃ¨te, undeniably a great deal of Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, and even more of an image. Or images.
To paint a portrait of the city, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto discovered an endless series of existing - used or forgotten -images, which he recaptured in his own way, lending them new meaning. They turn, just like the footprints painted white on the ground, into landmarks...
Juan Maunel Castro Prieto was on the movie set of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrituâs latest film âBiutifulâ.
He shot the portrait of the film director and actors Javier Bardem and Maricel Alvarez and made pictures of the atmosphere of popular Barcelona districts where the action takes place.
South Corea, Ewha women's university - 2010 (2010)
Deep in the heart of Seoul's University district, "Campus Valley" is a landscape more than an architecture. Nature, sports fields, events spaces and academic premises combine, mingle and mix together". A huge "rift" crosses the area, that forms a gentle slope on one side, and a flight of stairs that can be used as terraces on the other. "
Grand Prix AFEX for French Architecture in the world 2010
Dominique Perrault - Architecture
Ethiopia shares an history both ancient and particular with Christianity. Inside troglodytic churches, the worship devoted to the Lord by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was the official religion until 1974. The country welcomes 43,5% of Orthodox Christians in a part of the world predominantly Muslim.
Juan-Manuel Castro Prieto makes a statement of this spiritual life with the magical realism that characterized his work.
India, a word that leaves no one indifferent : everyone knows this country without even having been there. In everyoneâs mind, India is a country with people living in the streets, caste system, cremation in the Ganges, cows wandering freely, crowds, religion, etc..
I traveled to India to compare these stereotypes to reality, and check the truth of the images I had in my mind.
The first contact with this reality was merciless. In the streets without sidewalks, surrounded with people, motorcycles, cars, trucks, ricksaws, cows, bicycles, and by the smoke and noise of thousands of sounds and voices, I understood immediately that India was to be loved or hated, there couldnât be any...
The capital of Argentina marks its attachment to the old continent in all its streetsâ nooks. An atmosphere always challenged by its own position in South America. Buenos Aires is a coastal city of the Atlantic Ocean next to the neighbouring Uruguay. Itâs a land of contrast, with a culture coloured by remains of the Spanish colonisation. Between San Telmo district, the plaza de Mayo, and the towers of the business district, the city is building itself in the architectural opposition and complementarity. The town shows us also the weight of History, marked by juntas and colonization.
ExtraÃ±os shares aspects of Diario familiar but also reveals new directions in Juan Manuel Castro Prietoâs work. At the very core of the photographerâs artistic journey, this series revolves around four main themes: childhood (always) but also sex, death, and what he calls âpersonal spaceâ. Although some of these photographs express strong feelings and violent tension â âEven in a lot of my nudes, death is thereâ â all are ambiguous and mysterious. Served by a complex symbolism that can be read on many levels, they tend to evoke the strangeness of the world that surrounds us.
The Guadalquivir goes through Andalusia on 657 km. Juan Manuel Castro Prieto followed from its source to its mouth the river that brought power to the cities on its banks and shaped the geography of the country.
The Mentawai archipelago is a group of four small islands located approximately 150 kms from the west coast of Sumatra. It is difficult to get
there (the travel by boat from Padang, the capital of the province of West Sumatra, takes 10 hours).
This isolated land hosts a native Malay population (around 40 000 people). The authorities tried to modify their way of life, especially the scattered community housing, by creating villages on the coastline. Living mainly of the coconut and tropical essence exportations, the inhabitants of the archipelago have been very much affected by the tsunami of December 2004.
The archipelago is also famous for its astonishing surf spots.
Vanuatu, islands of fire, coral and strange worship (2005)
To the East of Australia, Vanuatu, comprising some 80 islands shaping a Y in the Pacific ocean and better known by its former name of the New Hebrides, has been independent since 1980. It is now a parliamentary republic of 200 000 inhabitants, mostly Melanesians.
From Port-Villa, capital of the Efate island that one can take a flight to Tanna. The British navigator James Cook was the first European to set foot on the big southern island of Tanna, in August 1774, attracted by the red light of the volcano of mount Yasur which dominates the village of Ipeukel, where the ones called âJohn Frumâ gather.
The story of this strange worship starts with the war in the Pacific, when the...
Juan Manuel Castro Prietoâs Peru is the hymn of the traveller grateful to have found his land. Swinging between spaces amplitude which can collect a boat on the Titicaca lake, or letting go a car on an advertising -tained road with faces confrontation. Peru is crossed by emotions, tenderness, respectful and peaceful way to travel, which ignore any exoticisms. From the most sincere trip, turned by the necessity, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto brings back a Peru, which doesnât exist except, in his own experience, and in the poetsâ mind.
Castro Prieto has tried in this tribute to approach the theme spectrum of Chambi? and also to record the social changes and mixed-eaces texture that are made visible, as well as the presence political power.
Martin Chambi is one of the most universal Peruvians of the twentieth century. The prestige of this indigenous photographer born in Coaza, Puno (1891), has been able to reconcile in his figure a society that is deeply marked by enormous social and ethnic differences.
In 1990, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto first traveled to Peru to make photographic copies of what would be the first retrospective exhibition of Martin Chambi in Spain. After that he returned to Peru several times over ten years.
Castro Prieto wanted to get inside Chambi to see as he saw, but to make different styles of both visible he has chosen to shoot in colour negative plates. Faced with the voluntarily subjective character of Castro PrietoÂ´s trips to Peru in the nineties, this project, conducted between 2009 and 2010, is a visual chronicle in a semiotic key that Martim Chambi photographed. Text by: Alejandro Castellote Publisher: La Fabrica (2012) 144 pages Size: 25 X 31 cm
Castro Prieto nos retrata en su obra una Cuenca de gentes modestas y trabajadoras, de gente humilde a la que le ha sido concedido un segundo de verdadera poesÃa, atrapando en sus imÃ¡genes el segundo de la emociÃ³n y el sentimiento para hacer sus instantÃ¡neas. Publisher: Lunwerg Editores (2005) 132 pages ISBN :849785232X
Â« Revelation, for Castro Prieto, has always been as much about dreams as the manifestation of images. This man who has come to SÃ¨te is above all the same man who published ExtraÃ±os, (âstrange thingsâ), a book featuring a collection of visions at once unsettling and beautiful, collectively offering a skilful metaphor for photography itself. Â»
ExtraÃ±os is a genuine collection of moments as well as a collection of images, where the eclecticism of subjects hints at the imaginary nature of an intimate cartography, and offers to link landscapes and portraits. The bodies of women, men and children answer in some ways to the more or less dead landscapes brought back from Spain and South America or Ethiopia. Publisher: Editions Lunwerg (2003) 132 pages Size: 26x26 cm ISBN :8497850386
In 1990, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto packed his black & white gear and set off for Peru to do enlarged versions of shots by the great MartÃn Chambi. He has since made many more trips to the country which is still a source of wonderment for him.
The exhibition shows him following in the footsteps of MartÃn Chambi, the photographer he admires so much, using a large format view camera, exploring sites photographed by the master, seeking to understand his fascination for the Andes and the influence on his work and life.
These Â« ExtraÃ±os Â» are the result of experiences, explorations, purely photographic researches the photographer\'s been doing for years. In black and white and in square format, he does not have another â themeâ than the photography in itself.
No matter how they are portraits, nudes, landscapes, still life photographs or the interpretation of a painting, he revels in an obvious pleasure to show and prove that, in photography, operating light is the bottom line. Playing with the shutter speed, the mixing of natural and artificial light, he toys the âpseudoâ realism of the silver...
â You might be tempted to call these âMemories of SÃ¨teâ. For this is in fact what they are: recollections of things that no longer exist and indeed existed only for a few days and nights spent criss-crossing every part of the town in search ofâ¦Of what, exactly? No doubt a little piece of SÃ¨te, undeniably a great deal of Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, and even more of an image. Or images.\r\r[â¦]\r\rIn painting his portrait of the city Juan Manuel Castro Prieto has discovered an endless series of existing, used or forgotten images, which he has recaptured in his own way, lending them...
Two photographic universes, two approaches, two epochs but a common admiration, passion for the Peruvian culture.\r\rWhile individual or group portraits of Martin Chambi (Coaza, 1891 â Cuzco, 1973) explore and reveal the complexity of the Peruvian society of the early 20th century, its countryside daily life scenes with its peasants are deeply tinged with the poetry, which comes from Inca cultureâs remains.\rFirst native photographer, Chambi was simultaneously anthropologist, art show photographer, photojournalist, militant witness of the birth of the Indian movement in his country,...
A carte blanche is always a risk to run. By inviting Juan Manuel Castro Prieto as an artist in residence for the fourth edition of the ImageSinguliÃ¨res collection, the risk we ran was negligible considering his reputation he has. And the results certainly lived up to our expectations â each year we seek to produce an original book. Yet Castro Prieto, working with traditional techniques, colour and a 20Ã25 camera, certainly didnât opt for the easiest way out. He tells us about memory. Each of his pictures is like a piece from an impressionist puzzle: a detail, a local character, a...
Since 2006, a big collective photographic exhibition is organised in the Parc de Sceaux. This year the thema is the relations between architecture and photography. A photography of Juan Manuel Castro Prieto will be shown in this collective exhibition.