The latest exhibition by photographer Marcelo Gurruchaga is a love letter to the power of nature and the glory of the Argentine landscape. The exhibition takes place in Palermo’s T-Bone restaurant, where sweeping shots of the Rio de La Plata accompany the daily carousel of pasta, pizza and empanadas.
Looking outside the restaurant window at bustling Av Santa Fé, it’s easy to forget the magnitude and the diversity of the Argentine countryside. The dense warren of streets in the capital is a total anathema to the intense, panoramic visions of Argentina that Gurruchaga presents in his show. Sweeping shots of unmarked countryside made up of intricate paths and weaving waterways are captured in an intense spectrum of colours. These photographs are dedications to an environment both fundamental to and threatened by human existence, serving as reminders of both human origins and footprints.
‘Tierra Madre’ (‘Mother Earth’) takes the themes of origin and light as its focus. The exhibition is the next step for an artist dedicated to portraying the enormity and magnitude of the natural world. Gurruchaga has worked in photography for over 30 years, teaching photography, graphic design and even architecture and design in the University of Buenos Aires, UADE and Belgrano. His key focus within his work is on portraying conservation and heritage issues through his photographs.
Gurruchaga’s previous shows, shot in far away locations like Antarctica, show a similar desire to capture the beauty of unsullied environments. However, these works are a deliberate homage to his birthplace and to human origins in nature.
“I wanted to show our purest origins” says Gurruchaga, “It is this type of landscape which appeals to me most; the insolation, infinite landscapes like the Pampas. These are the places that attract me”.
This reference to insolation, the science of light measurement hints at a deeper interest in light which runs throughout this exhibition. Gurruchaga’s respect for the natural world and our place within it is evident. Also obvious, however, is his fascination for light and the photographic method, evidenced in the glorious colours achieved in his images.
“Achieving the intensity is about a method of exposure to achieve the right measure of light, above all, the theme of photometry” he says.
Gurruchaga’s interest in insolation and photometry – the name given to the science of the measure of light – shows a deep respect for, nature and photography. It is this obsession with and respect for the enormity and complexity of his subject matter that takes his work beyond the realm of a Windows screen saver.
Opening night on Wednesday 4th July finds Gurruchaga amidst a swarm of eulogising fans. The evening is an intimate affair and the conversation is flowing – due in part to a seemingly endless supply of empanadas and red wine. Beaming guests sit at tables and weave between waiters and dinner parties to admire the array of canvases lining the walls.
While an unconventional setting for a photography exhibition, it is still possible to get a good look at all the pictures without getting too involved in a first date or sitting on someone’s lap. It does take more concentration to connect to art while dodging a dinner service, but the atmosphere is relaxed and accessible. Plus it’s easy to find a coffee after the show – just ask the waitress whose path you’re blocking.