Portraits of Writers

The Atmosphere of Anna Oswaldo Cruz
By Ignacio Vidal Folch

When Anna Oswaldo Cruz arrived in Barcelona, she decided to portray the writers of this city and, as one can see from the excellent work that she currently exhibits at the FNAC, she succeeded in this in a black-and-white, equally stylized as funerary: "Nothing improves mankind as much as death".
I presume, that the choice of this guild comes from a certain sympathy or literary preference of the artist, for we know that there is nothing very peculiar or striking about the faces of people who write, except perhaps that of Beckett, which is nevertheless not unusual in his country of origin. I do not even believe that anyone's face can be a faithful mirror of his soul, as little as anyone will be responsible at a certain age for his looks, as a well-known refrain and an aphorism would have it. People's faces are but a playground of expression and their morphological variability, unnecessarily infinite, another proof of nature's bounty.
For the artist-photographer it is the themes or models that matter for the creation of an atmosphere, elegant, intimate, sometimes dramatic, charged with a constrained tension, free of ornamental elements: the atmosphere of Oswaldo Cruz.
My face is one of the agents selected by her for this construction, and it amuses me that she has endowed it with what would go for a “rich inner life”, even if only a borrowed life, the “borrowed face”, as Paolo Conte sings, and that she exhibits it in the company of these refined deceptive images of the authors of books that I have read and enjoyed … What else to say, if one is among them? If the portrait is not one of the entire body –if it isolates the face from the less expressive, more useful parts, those that will link it more to this world– then there is by definition something melancholic and disquieting in it, even if its multiplication, thanks to Canon and the likes, makes all of this appear trivial.
Therefore a writer, today among the classics, to whom a photographic image of reality did not appear as trivial yet, was surprised to learn in the year 1927 that his “shadow” had been captured on a photograph of an unknown family: “My likeness among strangers / one of my august days / my shade they never noticed / my shade they stole in vain”.

By Radamés Molina

In these pictures the models pose upright, in almost all of them on the same chair against a gray background, framed within a rectangle. Sometimes they are slightly forward bent, casting a haughty glance. In general, these faces are attractive or possess at least a certain depth of expression. Seen in this way, these photographs do not appear to question the idea that we all have of a classical portrait; it could also be said that they were made with care (although the models have rejected their portraits in some cases, not finding them attractive enough).
One must add here that all or almost all persons appearing on these fotos are writers endowed with strong temperaments, who would usually wish to bring the intensity of their “thoughts” or the voluptuousness of their “passionate lives” to the surface of their faces; hence the occasionally marked gesture.
But here the pictures cut a head precisely at the height of the forehead or the image is closed asymmetrically, and in this way record different regions of intensity of the models: the hedonistic smile remains on one side of the image, the rictus of pain appears in the center of the composition, other detail gaining no importance. These are “close-ups” that are paradoxically surrounded by an environment from which the dimensions and the presence of 'the rest' are not excluded.
A last detail: It appears as if these pictures were created one second before or one second after the posing of the model; always before or after it would present itself with complacency, just about when an unexpected trait of the portrayed person comes to the surface.