Represented by Gallery VU'
Spanish. Born in 1958 in Madrid where he presently 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 “journey to the sun,” 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 photography’s limits and better understand light. The resulting effect was a tension between fiction and representation. He has also recently worked 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.
"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 population’s 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 Extraños, 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 Extraños 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 – 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 culture’s 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 country’s folklore…He’s 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 Africa’s 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.
“ You might be tempted to call these “Memories of Sète”. 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 of…Of what, exactly? No doubt a little piece of Sète, 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 of a sort. A...
100th Anniversary of the Machu Picchu's discovery (2011)
This July will be exactly 100 years since the discovery of Machu Picchu. The man who discovered it, Hiram Bingham, a American explorer, would go on to write books, to be a governor and a Senator. But what he will be remembered for is the fact that he came up on a hill one afternoon and saw walls, foundations, stairways, all buried in grass.
Machu Picchu lies on a sort of saddle jutting out from a mountain. Here is a little-known fact about these world famous ruins: almost half of the structures that make up Machu Picchu are below ground. These structures are the retaining walls that keep Machu Picchu from sliding off the mountain. Machu Picchu was not shaped to match the mountain that...
Juan Maunel Castro Prieto was on the movie set of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest film “Biutiful”.
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 everyone’s 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 couldn’t be any...
The capital of Argentina marks its attachment to the old continent in all its streets’ 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. It’s 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.
These « extranos » Juan Manuel Castro Prieto is acquainting us are the result of experiences, explorations, purely photographic researches he’s been doing for years.
In black and white and in square format, he does not have another “ theme” 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 “pseudo” realism of the silver photography and drags us in a universe both poetic and disturbing.
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 “John Frum” gather.
The story of this strange worship starts with the war in the Pacific, when the Americans...
Juan Manuel Castro Prieto’s 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 doesn’t exist except, in his own experience, and in the poets’ 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 Prieto´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
Giving a carte blanche is always risky. That of inviting Juan Manuel Castro Prieto as an artist in residence for the fourth edition of the ImageSingulières collection was negligible considering just how different a reputation he has. And the results certainly live up to our expectations – each year we seek to produce an original book with a difference. Yet Castro Prieto, working with traditional techniques, colour and a 20×25 large format camera, certainly didn’t opt for the easy 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 memory captured with the accent… The pastel images that he offers us up, in apparent pain yet with astonishing good-nature and kindness, come together without a single wrong note yielding a poetic image of the town. But make no mistake, Juan Manuel questions his own past as well as that of Sète. Text by: Christian Caujolle Publisher: CéTàVOIR et Images En Manoeuvres Editions (2011) 96 pages Size: 20 x 24 cm
Esta obra es el resultado de cuatro viajes realizados por Juan Manuel Castro Prieto a Etiopía. Los personajes que transitan por sus fotos muestran con dignidad la variedad social, cultural y religiosa de un país exótico y atemporal, permitiendo al autor mostrar una de las características de su obra, su interés por la naturaleza del ser humano. Text by: Christian Caujolle Publisher: Lunwerg (2009) 112 pages Size: 30,5 X 27,6 cm ISBN :8497855647
En las fotografías Juan Manuel Castro Prieto (Madrid, 1958) aparecen una diversidad de lugares y culturas del mundo, que han cautivado la sensibilidad de su autor. Para Publio López Mondéjar, Castro Prieto es un virtuoso cuya vocación y técnica están despojadas de toda pretenciosidad. Publisher: La Fabrica (2007) 120 pages Size: 13x18 cm ISBN :8496466604
La seda rota
El fotógrafo Juan Manuel Castro Prieto (Madrid, 1958) y el escritor Andrés Trapiello (León, 1953) se encontraron un tesoro en un piso de Madrid. Ni la guerra civil ni la especulación habían perturbado parte de la valiosa colección de pintura de la familia Madrazo, que, junto a históricos documentos y otros vestigios del pasado, aguardaba a ser hallada. Text by: Andrés Trapiello Publisher: arte 21 (2006) 100 pages ISBN :84-609-91-65-2
Esperando al cargo
En el ano 2004 Juan Manuel Castro Prieto viajo a la Isla de Tanna, situada en los Mares del Sur dentro del archipiélago de Vanuatu. Llego acompanado de Paco Gomez y un periodista de la revista alemana Mare con el objetivo de realizar un reportaje.
Alejandro Castellote Text by: Dimitri Ladischensky Publisher: Ediciones La Isla (2006) 28 pages Size: 30x30 cm
Visiones de Marruecos
Un mosaico de miradas complementarias de creadores marroquíes y españoles que, a través de sus objetivos, enfocan y nos acercan a la realidad marroquí. Text by: Lofti Akalay, Lorenzo Silva, Publio Lopez Mondejar Publisher: Lunwerg Editores (2006) 200 pages ISBN :84-9785-345-8
Cuenca en la mirada
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 poesía, atrapando en sus imágenes el segundo de la emoción y el sentimiento para hacer sus instantáneas. Publisher: Lunwerg Editores (2005) 132 pages ISBN :849785232X
Pérou, Chemins perdus
Des milliers de photos prises dans ce pays émane une atmosphère onirique. Les paysages, les portraits, les décors ont ce parfum des voyages imaginaires. Text by: Frédéric Mancier Publisher: Editions du Chêne (2003) 190 pages Size: 29,5x29,5 cm ISBN :8477827885
« Revelation, for Castro Prieto, has always been as much about dreams as the manifestation of images. This man who has come to Sète is above all the same man who published Extraños, (‘strange things’), a book featuring a collection of visions at once unsettling and beautiful, collectively offering a skilful metaphor for photography itself. »
Extraños 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
These « Extraños » 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 “ theme” 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 “pseudo” realism of the silver photography...
“ You might be tempted to call these “Memories of Sète”. 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 of…Of what, exactly? No doubt a little piece of Sète, undeniably a great deal of Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, and even more of an image. Or images.\r\r[…]\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 new meaning....
Présentée pour la première fois en France, l’exposition Etiopía est le résultat de quatre voyages de Juan Manuel Castro Prieto en Ethiopie, pays multi-ethnique à la richesse culturelle étonnante.\r\rL’Éthiopie représente une véritable obsession pour Juan Manuel Castro Prieto qui y revient à plusieurs reprises. Il y retrouve une mémoire ancestrale de l’humanité. Ses photographies, où pour une fois la couleur alterne avec le noir et blanc, sont dénuées d’exotisme et de stéréotypes et constituent moins un journal de voyage qu’une méditation prolongée. À la fois poétique et symbolique, elle porte...
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 – 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 culture’s remains.\rFirst native photographer, Chambi was simultaneously anthropologist, art show photographer, photojournalist, militant witness of the birth of the Indian movement in his country, archivist...
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 ImageSingulières collection, the risk we ran was negligible considering his reputation he has. And the results certainly lived up to our expectations – each year we seek to produce an original book. Yet Castro Prieto, working with traditional techniques, colour and a 20×25 camera, certainly didn’t 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 memory...
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.