The cinema and television series show The Angels as a prototype of a disproportionate luxury that emanates from Hollywood its most glamorous neighborhood. But there is a world that has nothing to do with the latest model cars or obscenely expensive mansions. It is a society that travels by bus, lives in a caravan and eats badly. It is the city through which the losers travel, which in a stark manner portrays Anthony Hernandez (Los Angeles, 1947) for 45 years. More than a hundred photographs star in the retrospective exhibition A disconcerting look that from January 31 and until May 12 can be seen in the rooms of the Mapfre Foundation of Madrid. The exhibition has been organized in co-production with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and supposes the premiere of the new director of the institution, Nadia Arroyo.
Son of Mexican immigrants who, however, only expresses himself in English, he tells that his education is self-taught and that he was born because of his love to walk and look where he walked. Neighbor of a neighborhood of public housing, what he had before his eyes were homeless people, poor of solemnity whose presence enlarged the city in an uncontrolled manner. It was the final years of the sixties and he began to portray with a small camera the men and women he crossed. "Black and white and always without disturbing, going unnoticed," he said Tuesday in Madrid. They are surprised people wandering the streets with sorrowful faces, delivered to their thoughts and also with moments of relaxation as seen in the splendid series entitled Long Beach (1969), where people sunbathe or bathe in the sea.
Erin O'Toole, curator of the exhibition and curator of the San Francisco museum, draws attention to the version of Los Angeles that Hernandez portrays: that of the Latin or black maids who suffocate in the sun waiting for a bus that will take them to work to the mansions of the stars and multimillionaire executives, the homeless that sleep on cardboard under the high passes of the highways or of those who lose their belongings dragged by the channeling of the river after a great storm. O'Toole specifies that under all possible formats, whether in black and white or in color, in landscapes with or without people, the eternal theme for Hernandez is the poor. "They are approached not as an activist but with the eyes of someone who brings beauty and dignity to the darkest side of society," says the curator.
In the wake of great masters of American photography as Garry Winogrand Y Bruce Davidson, Of those who confess to be a devoted admirer, the images of Anthony Hernandez serve to document an unknown part of life in one of the most famous cities in the world. But he prefers that poetry and beauty stand out with which he approaches the scenarios he portrays. "In the abandoned and discarded there is a lot of beauty," he explains. "The important thing is always the human being, even if it does not appear in the photo, something that has happened since 1988. In my urban landscapes, I focus on the ruin of the interiors of abandoned buildings: fences, fences, partitions or butts that carpet the floor are the signs of the passage of homeless people.I approach this universe with all the courtesy and humility of which I am capable ".
The exhibition is organized in chronological order and divided into eight spaces. The same theme, Los Angeles, is only broken at the beginning with portraits of other cities such as Washington or a scene from Madrid taken in 1971 before the Retiro pond during a tourist visit. There is also a series dedicated to modern ruins, abandoned buildings, in Rome. Everything else has to do with your city, Los Angeles.
Although he was assigned to the Vietnam War for 18 months as a medical assistant in helicopters, it is a stage that eludes and of which he does not show any image. Poetry search engine on the toughest issues of his environment, does not consider bringing his camera to the border between Mexico and the United States where Trump is determined to build a giant wall. "I'm not interested as a subject," he says. "This is something too specific, I prefer to wander around and portray what comes my way, I never force things or direct the objective to issues outside of me, I was recently asked to participate in an exhibition, but they wanted images of young children. " What he is very happy about is having received a call from the curator of the Venice Biennale to participate in the next edition that will open in May. "We were in full assembly of these rooms and I received the call, it will be May 7, a few days before the exhibition closes, I can not be happier."