De Magnete by Jon Gorospe

Your world might change in an instant if you look at it in a different light.

I am not a neutral critic. I know the artist and I know the gallerist, in fact, somehow, I am the one who put the two in touch. Which means that you can take my words with a pinch of salt – should you wish.

My words are these: What a beautiful exhibition. It is vast and precise at the same time, light but bold, bright but full of dark shadows that give weight to the sunlight. Jon Gorospe, a young Spanish photographer, has with De Magnete at Galleria28 in Piazza di Pietra in Rome, created astonishing art that transcends traditional photography and moves into the undefined terrain of art without genre, art that is just art, regardless of how it was made.

It all started with his Spanish eyes looking at how long the shadows of a water bottle were in Norway, when the sun was low. The photos Gorospe has taken of the North are silent, they say very little, but the little they utter is enough to rock the world.

So different the play of the stark sunlight in the cold water, compared to the golden beams of the south. This is a Southern European being fascinated by the North, seeing things that the Northerner himself doesn’t consider special.

But this is not really about the North and the South of Europe, or about north and south at all, it is about something much deeper.

What fascinates me the most is how Gorospe makes it blatantly clear that the same object changes shape and form when seen in different lights. Take his pictures of the sea, taken at the same spot. One is dark and grey and colourless, melancholic, while the other is a chant of colours, pink and purple bright as the sun itself. It’s like when you wake up in the morning and the day ahead of you looks promising, you have that good feeling in your stomach, you do your morning routine, go to work, things are good, and then in the afternoon, out of nowhere, you end up in a fight with your someone close to you, and all that beautiful world that you woke up to in the morning, is gone and what is left is a grey and dark and lacklustre.

Or, contrarily, you wake up on a rainy morning and all you want to do is to stay home but you have to go to work and so you do, and it is as horrible as you thought it would be. In the afternoon you spend an hour or more in traffic and you get home devastated just to find your loved one waiting for you with dinner and caring words that turn your day upside down and the day that looked gloomy, now sparkles.

It is all a matter of how you look at things. Consider a small photo in the basement of the gallery. From afar, you cannot see anything, it looks like a photo of a black sheet of paper. Moving closer, however, small tiny dots – stars – become visible, and when you stand really close, there are a myriad of them. The black sheet of paper is all of a sudden beautiful.

On the back of the same frame, there is a 24-hour film taken from one and the same spot that shows how the light changes throughout those hours, and highlights how easily things can change. That’s what this exhibition is to me: a study of how the light you see things in, has the power to change how the very essence of what you are looking at.

But then the exhibition is called De Magnete – the theory of the power of the magnet that draws us all in the same direction in the end, regardless of which direction we are looking in.

Suggestive is one word. Elegant is another. Elegant because the art is extrovert, it is not about the artist himself, who remains as an unknown, but about his shy but weighty revelation of an important aspect of the world.

All art says something about what the world is, but this little handful of photographs say lot more than most other art. I loved it, I hope you will too.


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