Juan Manuel Sánchez - A Mentor MissedSaturday, May 12, 2018
In my 30s and 40s when old people died they did so because they were old.
Now at 75 my reference point is different. Just reading about Philip Roth dying a few days ago at 85 tells me that if I am lucky I may have 10 more years. Time has compressed and those 10 will seem short once I am in my death bed (if unlucky) or if I am vaporized while flying in a hypersonic Air Canada airplane of the future that explodes in mid-air.
I have extensive film and digital files of women (mostly undraped) that I have photographed since the late 70s. I always felt uncomfortable in showing my pictures to friends or relatives. This was not so bad when pictures to be shown had to be either prints or projected slides. The digital age has changed all that.
Around 2000 I became friends with Argentine painters Nora Patrich and Juan Manuel Sánchez (they were living in my Vancouver then). From the two I realized that I was an artist and not just a competent magazine photographer. It was Sánchez who egged me on.
|Juan Manuel Sánchez & Linda Lorenzo|
Sanchez in the 60s protested the Argentine military dictatorships within an institution of well-known artists in a group called Grupo Espartaco. They used murals to protest peacefully the goings on of the generals. By the year 2000 Sánchez had settled into his favourite subject, the nude woman.
A painting of a nude woman is much more palatable to the conservatives in art who would consider a nude photographic female much more in your face.
But Sánchez taught me to ignore all that and to soldier on. From him it all seemed like what he was doing and what I was doing was perfectly natural.
To Sánchez a blank canvas was a problem to be resolved. Once he finished his painting (almost always a nude) he had found his “resolución”. Through the years until his death in Buenos Aires two years ago, his paintings and their resolutions became simpler. I asked him once if one day he would paint a dot on a large canvas and call that the essential (as in a Plato essence) resolution of a woman. His quick answer was, “¡Sí!”
|Juan Manuel Sánchez & Nora Patrich|
My situation is similar. My photographs of undraped women are now not as frequent as before. My subjects are hard to find. But when I manage to find a willing one, I am searching for erotic subtlety and elegance. My reference has always been that 20th century man that Helmut Newton was. He had elegance and subtlety in his photographs.
And so I take pictures that have fewer elements as it would seem I am headed into Sánchez territory.