Luis González Palma

B. 1957

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When you are born you acquire the mantle of pain and it is not until you die that you can get rid of it…the fundamental element of my creative experiences…the consciousness of my own solitude.

– Luis González Palma

Luis González Palma Biography

Luis González Palma is one of Latin America’s most significant contemporary photographers. Born in Guatemala, trained as an architect, González Palma turned to photography in the mid 1980s.

His first series of photographs were hand-painted gelatin silver prints depicting haunting images of the Maya Indians. González Palma captures the essence of the people and their culture by portraying his subjects in theatrical, almost mythological, costumes signifying elements of their ancient rituals and beliefs.  Through González Palma’s photographs, one sees the pain and sadness of the Mayan people who have endured a violent, racist government since the early 16th century. But despite their suffering, the people in González Palma’s portraits remain dignified and soulful.

Solitude and pain form the basis of González Palma’s art. In each work, the viewer is confronted with a grief that echoes through time. Transporting Guatemalan natives, his relatives, servants and god-daughter into a timeless, universal plane, González Palma intersects the past and the present. These images transform the work from portraiture into the realm of iconographic metaphors.

González Palma dramatically manipulates the texture of his prints, thickly layering them with oil paint or watercolor washes and distressing them to give them a worn, antique feeling. These photographs have rich, dark and mysterious surfaces. The overall sepia color of González Palma’s images suggests history; the white remaining in the images tends to lie in the eyes, a rope or a crown of paper flowers on an elderly woman’s head. The searing white eyes engage and challenge the viewer.

González Palma’s images serve as the background for John Sayle’s film “Men with Guns.” His photographs are housed in many major museum and private collections.

Prints are in limited editions. Earlier images were not numbered and editioned. Prints priced individually.

selected publications:
Luis González Palma, La Azotea Editorial Fotografica, Paraguay, 1993
Luis González Palma: The Silence of the Gaze, Text by Laura Leonelli, Pelliti Associati, Photo Company, 1998Poems of Sorrow, essay by John Wood, Arena Editions, 1999

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