Juan Manuel Sánchez - A Mentor Missed
Saturday, 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
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
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
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.
Patience on the Psychiatric Couch & the Good Life
Friday, May 11, 2018
These days as I slumber in our bed before I succumb to the “baile
de las sábanas blancas” as my mother called going to bed to sleep I am thinking
of my joint show with my friend Argentine artist Nora Patrich at the Galería
Vermeer on Thursday September 20 in Buenos Aires.
She is going to show some of her stuff, I will show some of
mine and we will also display some collaborative (colaboraciónes) work.
Embedded in that show will be not only the superlative Argentine presence of
Linda Lorenzo (whose pictures you see here) but the memory and almost-live
presence of our departed friend and artist Juan Manuel Sánchez who inspired us all for an
artistic look at our nostalgia for Buenos Aires.
|Linda Lorenzo & Nora Patrich|
|Juan Manuel Sánchez & Linda Lorenzo|
San Telmo - a Gevabox & a Surprising Image
Thursday, May 10, 2018
("Saint Pedro González Telmo") is the oldest barrio (neighborhood) of
Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is a well-preserved area of the Argentine
metropolis and is characterized by its colonial buildings. Cafes, tango parlors
and antique shops line the cobblestone streets, which are often filled with
artists and dancers. A street named the "Illuminated Block" is where
many of these important historical buildings can be found.
San Telmo's attractions include old churches (e.g. San Pedro
Telmo), museums, antique stores and a semi-permanent antique fair (Feria de
Antigüedades) in the main public square, Plaza Dorrego. Tango-related
activities for both locals and tourists are in the area.
In our last trip to Buenos Aires in 2017 I made it a custom
to return to the old barrio of San Telmo on a Sunday. There are many Americans
there and I have the suspicion that they are looking for SS/Hitler memorabilia
among the wears displayed in the antiques market.
There is a store there that is dedicated to the Argentine
caramel called “dulce de leche”. Rosemary and I enjoyed a dulce de leche ice-cream
and we purchased some jars of San Ignacio Dulce de Leche which we deem to be the
At one of the “puestos” I spotted an old box camera. I
haggled with the man and bought it for about ten Dollars. What was surprising
about this German-made camera which used 120 format film (taking pictures that
are 6x9 cms) was that there was roll of film in it. I was curious and promptly
forgot about it.
A week ago while suffering the doldrums of extended rainy
and grey days I wondered about the film.
I carefully wound the film back. When I took it out it was
Kodak Verichrome which I know to have been a b+w film introduced around 1912.
Of the camera I looked it up and found this:
metal box-camera type device with chrome edges, taking 6x9 images on 120 film;
made from c.1951 for Gevaert by Hermann Wolf GmbH, Wuppertal, Germany.
Single-speed + B shutter; f8 lens, stopping to f.11 &
f.16, focusing 5ft-infinity; two waist-level viewfinders (for landscape and
The date of the introduction of my Gevabox means that the
startling nude photographs that were revealed when I processed the film in
Kodak HC-110 (8 minutes at 20 degrees in Dilution B) must have been taken soon
after. I have scanned here one that will not offend any in social media.
The Ghost in Our Garden
Wednesday, May 09, 2018
Kathleen Young had a heart attack in our kitchen. She lay on
the floor for a day before she was found still alive. In 1986 we bought her
house and she was moved to a home in Ontario.
In the beginning I thought her garden was her turf and
Rosemary and I were reluctant to change anything. We would discover plants and
try to figure out why Mrs. Young had chosen them or why she had placed them in
that particular spot. After about a year I could almost say I knew a bit about
her because of her garden. To me she was a ghost and I would somehow walk
through her as I mowed the lawn or planted a rose.
Eventually her presence faded and the garden became our own.
We radically changed it and removed lots of lawn and added new flower beds.
Two years ago we left our fine corner house and garden. We
moved some of the plants to the large garden our eldest daughter Ale has in
Lillooet. We brought some plants to our Kits duplex. We told some friends to
help themselves. I could not watch as they dug up some of my roses, shrubs and
hostas. A few plants went to the UBC Botanical Garden.
I believe in ghosts.
Somehow there is something of Rosemary
and this her husband in those plants at UBC. I look at some of my Gallicas in
Lillooet with a bit of a smile but I keep my melancholy at my loss inside.
A few weeks ago we went to the old house. It is still there
but the garden is almost gone. An excavator was brought in to level the place
and the circular mound where I had my roses (it was a sunny spot) is flat.
Nothing is growing. Our water heater is still in the middle of the walk. It has been there for almost a year.
When we moved to that house we could feel the presence (or
at least I did since I believe in ghosts). When the house is finally torn down
nobody will know the history of the almost 100 year-old house. At least five of
our cats are buried there. If there is a
new garden will the owners walk through us? Will their pets sense our dead cats
and the racoons that lived in the thuja?
By then we might even be ghosts here in Kits.
The photograph here of Virve Reid to me seems like an
apparition of a young Kathleen Young. She is a ghostly apparition who must have not approved of our changes at first.
In the end the Kathleen Young who lived into her
90s must have known that her garden was ours but hers, too.
Jacqueline du Pré & the Un-Rhododendron
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
|Rosa 'Jacqueline du Pré' May 7 2018|
Today, May 7 2018 I looked out of my living room window and
saw the first rose to open in our garden. The rose that has first opened in our
garden has never been the same one. Rosa ‘Jacqueline du Pré’ in spite of being
in shade most of the day has officially opened the rose season in the garden.
I moved a few weeks ago a very strange looking rhododendron.
It is Rhododendron macrosepalum
It has very tiny lanceolate leaves and even smaller flowers. It has to be
protected. We purchased it many years in Seattle. I believe that I have finally
found a perfect spot for this un-rhododendron.
|Rhododendron macrosepalum 'Linearifolium' May 6 2018|