Europe Week: Salva Lopez

Guest editor, Jacqueline Roberts shares a week of European photographers, starting with Salva Lopez. A huge thank you toJacqueline for her insight and efforts. Her statement for why she selected the photographers follows: 


 I chose these photographs because they move me. They are portraits of people, young or old. They tell a story, maybe theirs, maybe ours. Some speak softly, hushing over us like in Lopez’ muted portraits of old people. Others exude exuberance and vitality, like in Laboile’s family life. Some are languid portraits, others raw pictures of a sore existence. Some stare right back at us, like in Videnin’s photographs; others gently lower their gaze. Yet for me, they all share that essential quality that turns a good photograph into a great one: immediacy. We know a good photograph when we see one. When I look at these images, I relate to them immediately, to the people they portray, to the narrative. They have their own language, a language that speak to me, a language that I understand. There is an intuitive connection that synchronises our own experience with a photograph. A reciprocal flow. An empathic exchange. 


I was at Getxophoto this summer, an international photo festival near Bilbao (Spain), and it struck me when two passers-by paused in front of a photograph and remarked: “Oh that’s very nice, but what does that mean? What was the artist trying to tell us?” searching for answers. Images carry meaning, they do; but in my case, it is the quest for questions that I relish when looking at a photograph. To me, these photographs tell us about loneliness, joy and pain; about dreams, beauty and hopelessness; about search and loss… Vehicles for meanings, emotions and thoughts. Stories of bodies and souls… ultimately, metaphors of life and what lies underneath.–Jacqueline Roberts


image by Salva Lopez


Salva López (Barcelona, 1984) trained as a graphic designer but when he discovered photographers Stephen Shore, Joel Sternfeld and Alec Soth, he realised that photography was what he wanted to do. Since then Salva has gained recognition in Spain as an emerging talent, winning many awards (e.g.Fotoactitud, Photoespaña) and showing his work in exhibitions and photo festivals.

Salva is currently working on his project “The Green Curtain”, about the mount Montjuïc in Barcelona. He is also co-editor of the blog “Have a Nice Book” about photography books that he edits with his friend and also photographer Yosigo.

Roig 26 is a project that I have carried
out bit by bit through observation, reflection and from my experience of living
with my grand parents, Marina y José, for five years in their modest apartment
on Roig street, in the Barcelona “Raval” district. An apartment that
has been the stage of their relationship for more than 60 years. A whole life
inside these same walls and these same fears.

With Roig 26 my intention was not to draw a true portrait of their own reality, but rather to recreate one, through what I have experienced with them.


What does your cultural heritage bring to your work?

It is difficult to know which type of cultural heritage has influence my work. Obviously I have my own cultural references, my region, my surroundings, Catalonia, Spain, the Mediterranean and Europe. But in a global world, my influences come also from the United States, through their movies, their music, their literature and particularly through their photography. William Eggleston or Stephen Shore have had an impact on me from the start. 

What difference do see between work created in Europe and in the States?

Ummm… I would say that in the United States a formal approach often predominates along with a more intuitive and visual narrative. I believe that in Europe we perhaps make it more intellectual, we try to find a concept for each photographic work. The ideal work, for me, would that which is visually strong and has an intellectual dimension, that is interesting but not necessarily explicit. In my work, there are days when I wake up as a European and others as an American. Here in Europe we too often “split hairs”.

What is the state of photography in your country (how is photography perceived in the art scene, is there support, are galleries selling, etc.)?
As everybody knows, Spain is going through a massive crisis and the first budget cuts have affected cultural activities. Most grants are gone now, and what is left will not last long. I am not too familiar with galleries so I can’t really say, but one thing is sure, sales have fallen dramatically.
Having said that, I think that Spanish photographers are getting better and we are gradually reaching European levels. People are very motivated and there are more and more groups that support young talented photographers. I know quite well the world of photography books and I can see the progression. Publishing houses are publishing very interesting things and photography books are now making the Top 10 list for best books. Last year for instance, Ricardo Cases with ‘Paloma al aire’ and Julian Barón with ‘CENSURA’ were among the top 10. And it is very likely that Cristina de Middel’s book ‘Afronautas’, will make it this year. 
There is still loads more to do, support and funds are scarce, but luckily and thanks to the Internet it is now much easier to access information and promote your work. The intermediaries who were once indispensable are less so today.