Magazine article Artforum International

Ricard Terre

Magazine article Artforum International

Ricard Terre

Article excerpt

GALERIE VU

In an uncanny reversal of roles, photographer Ricard Terre has been stalking Death since the mid-'50s. Not the imminent death that presides over battlefields, natural disasters, or police morgues, but the transcendent death that haunts the rituals of the living: Carnival, Holy Week processions, funerals. This unconventional pursuit had a precise beginning, in 1957 in Terre's native Barcelona, where the twenty-nine year-old business-school graduate turned painter and caricaturist had begun experimenting with photography: "It was during Holy Week," he said. "Twenty-four shots in half an hour. All the work comes from there." Indeed, the essence of Terre's singular vision is to be found in these early photos, nearly a dozen of which were included among the selection of sixty past and present works that the Galerie Vu had the luxury of presenting in its nearly 5,000 square feet of converted industrial space. In their otherworldly alliance of the momentary and the monumental, the black-shrouded women who dominate these works--penitents, mourners, and mothers--take us on a metaphysical zigzag between medieval Catalonian frescoes, Picasso's Guernica, and mental images of contemporary Iran.

For Terre, the key to the stark, quasi-iconic stylization of these images, so out-of-phase with Spanish photography of the '50s in its academic (pictorialist) and independent (photojournalistic) variants alike, lies in his experience as a caricaturist. There is undoubtedly also something of William Klein's no-frills technique, for Klein's path-breaking New York, published in Paris in 1956, had quickly made its way to the Barcelona avant-garde. But Klein's influence stops there, and soon after, so did the first chapter of Terre's photographic career. Moving to the Galician port city of Vigo in 1959, he returned to business in order to support his family and, notwithstanding a few exhibitions in the early '6os, soon gave up photography altogether. …

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