Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Jesusa Vargas reviews Fernell Franco

Fernell Franco was a Latin American photographer from Colombia. He died in 2006 but continues to be a key documentarian of Colombia’s history. He had a talent for taking photos of seemingly ordinary scenes and, using shadow and light, creating visually intriguing and stunning photographs. His photographs contain themes of urban settings and prostitution. 
Fernell’s chiaroscuro style allows for dramatically enhanced gradation and division of light and shadow in his compositions. It is in this way that he sets a mood, draws in the audience for closer inspection, and creates dimension within his works. 
 Untitled, from the series Prostitutes (Sin título, de la serie Prostitutas), Colombia, ca. 1970. Collection Leticia and Stanislas Poniatowski. © Fernell Franco.

Série Prostitutas, 1970-1972 (collage)© Fernell Franco, Courtesy of Fundación Fernell Franco Cali / Toluca Fine Art, Paris
In the two photographs above Fernell has taken photos of prostitutes, allowing for the “male gaze” perspective. The women are laid out, some nude, others in their undergarments. In the collage, the four images of women on a floral bed, the models suggestively stare directly at the audience. The intentional tinting of the images creates an interesting gradation on the wall behind the women. The highlights and organic lines in the first photo provide a sensual and mellow composition; our eyes look to find lines that flow across the image, illustrating nude silhouettes of the 3 women. 

Série Pacifico, 1987

I personally enjoy the grain within the dark contrasts of the street image above. This effect creates a mysterious and somber visual. 

"Franco’s highly experimental, pioneering work crossed the limits between media at a crucial moment in the history of photography, transcending the paradigm of photography as a documentary element and the photographer as merely a documentary agent."
                                    ~Wills Londoño

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