Imagination and Memory

José Manuel Caballero Bonald

Gabriel Campuzano’s photographic adventure delimits an artistic field of clear singularity. Imagination and memory have formed an alliance to create work that seems to share other expressive formulations, which are especially linked to pictorial language. I am not making reference to a purely technical aspect but, rather, to a literal aesthetic conception. It goes without saying that the treatment Campuzano has used to channel his photographs takes part in a deft, profound creative intention although, above all, it shows a rich inquisitive capacity when it comes to searching the equivalence between art and reality or between memory and reality. In this particular case, the photographer has not tried to reproduce a specific scene or landscape. He has deciphered them. He has not copied them but interpreted them. It could be added that he has adapted the observed –evoked- world to his own invention of reality. This, and nothing else, is the main attribute of any artistic creation.
Time and space appear in Gabriel Campuzano’s work in a very characteristic way. The manipulation of the photographic original generates two effects that, to some extent, are complementary: temporal indefiniteness and spatial vagueness –or, to use Campuzano’s own words, a sort of deliberate “space-time abstraction”. Everything is suggested, sketched, as if made out through an engrossed vision of reality. This, no doubt, adds new suggestiveness to the chosen subjects. “Unless it is deformed, reality cannot exhibit its enigmas”, I once said in a poem. Now I am tempted to associate that statement to this admirable photographic production. Here the distortion of the objects and the formal indefiniteness of the scenes, in other words, that sort of de-construction Campuzano uses to intensify the sense of the real, also has the value of a meditation about one’s own experience. The fact that the data that physical space yields are modified coincides with that portion of creativity that always remains sheltered in memory.
Memory is the unchaining factor, the raw material of this photographic work. Memory, however, usually acts in enigmatic ways, unpredictably. Trying to reproduce its contents in each photograph in a faithful reflection of fenced-in reality --as in a deed by a notary public-- is not something compulsory. In a way, whoever remembers invents and always contributes something that does not exactly belong to reliable remembrances anymore. That, in my opinion, is what Campuzano has used as his aesthetic guide and working tool. The photographic image thus unveils some unforeseen areas and adds lines that are different from those reality provides us with and creates a new aesthetic dimension in the observer.
To a great extent, when Campuzano mentions the “city-collection of images”, he is defining the most expressive dialectic medium in his work. Those urban profiles that are just theoretically outlined in the imagination are, on the other hand, more exciting and effective than those that come from reality. It is as if the deliberate out-focusing, the complexity of the outlook, favoured the discovery of the hidden side of that reality. Campuzano’s “city-collection of images” is the city that dwells in his memory. All those urban icons –“station, fortress, cathedral, city hall, palace, market, square, cemetery”—belong to so many other memories of the author’s and yet transcend their habitual, anecdotal character to disclose to us the bottom-line of all those remembrances, their most efficient and fascinating aesthetic feature.
If photography stops the normal course of a certain reality, the photographs here presented go beyond that idea and encompass a new area of meaning. Most especially I mean this irrefutable evidence: Campuzano has turned his life experience into artistic experience, and he has done this with an intelligence and singularity that I do not hesitate to qualify as exemplary.