Flashback. The Thousand and One Lenses of Leopoldo Pomés


Photography is one of those hidden passions which almost everyone cultivates, and even more recently with the emergence of photographic applications like Instagram. That is why photographic exhibitions attract society in that way. In this case, the Catalunya – La Pedrera Foundation has bet, once again, on exhibiting contemporary catalan photography by the hand of one of the great exponents not only of photography but also of other areas as is Leopoldo Pomés.

Again, the Catalunya – La Pedrera Foundation has invited us to the guided tour for bloggers, where the curator of the exhibition, Julià Guillamon, has taken us along its multifaceted visual language. Photographer, poet, publicist, drawer, sometimes launching into cinema and documentaries and even in designs of restaurants; Leopoldo Pomés, versatile as a Renaissance man, around 80 years of age, still creates and produces.  

Let’s start! This photographic exhibition is very contextualized and narrative, which makes the difference from the typical ones, more deliberate and poetic, without much implied explanation. If we talk in museographic terms, something we like to do, we find several thematic areas, differentiated by the colours used for the walls, which in fact, remind us of the style of Caixaforum Barcelona. The first part is more biographical, followed by an adverstising one and then, closing them all, a miscellaneous one with documentaries, films and other more interdisciplinary projects. Indeed, the interaction between black-and-white photographs of Pomés and the coloured backgrounds produces a very interesting contrast, creating an expressive and sensory dialogue. Facing them, there are also black walls containing the peculiar history of a particular element, picture or photograph, which somehow, mark the character or artistic discourse of the photographer. Thus, in an unique space three different ones can reach an interconnection, according to the museological language based on colours.

An example of this is found in the black space occupied by a reproduction of his first picture: the beginning of his career. It is a snapshot of the port of Barcelona taken with a Kodak Retina, a present from his father, from the factory in which he had worked.

Another museographical area is found if we get into his friendship with the artistic group Dau al Set. In the 50s, he being younger than them, Pomés joined the group as a photographer and took pictures of them in several urban and relaxed atmospheres. He did it in squares and terraces as peace scenarios, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In the exhibition, there is a dialogue game between the works of the artists of Pomés collection (since they gave pieces to each other) and photographs of his friends taken by him. The arising complicity can be seen in the feeling transmitted by the pictures, which he later would show either through the pictures of other personalities of the artistic world or during his advertising period.

From here, he will make inroads into various artistic fields: exhibiting in galleries, illustrating books -some of which won’t see the light of day-, photographing the city and the life, always with the human and intimate common denominator, what everyday life shows.

On one hand, he focuses the attention on the lightness of the life despite the gray and apparent hopelessness of modern life. On the other hand, he looks at the dramatic experience of being, by a more critical vision of daily conflicts and different roles which are created by the society but also accepted. From his experience photographing the city and individuals, he creates an artistic continuum where he includes a documentary called Ciutats de la Guerra Freda (Cities of Cold War), as a document of an era.

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He will advertise, creating the sensual female model through a language very close to surrealism, that one of his colleagues of Dau al Set, forming an imagination of rebellion in full Franco regime. Hence, his fame began when television emerged and with the originality of his ads, being the artificer, among other things, of the bubble figure of Freixenet cava, which became an advertising model and currently an icon. And from there, he wrote books, poems, drew… He even thought up a very personal decoration and design of two restaurants, still open today.

As we have seen, he is a genuin polyhedron of a thousand faces and facetes. We could not explain all his creations and topics, not only the exhibition ones, but all those along his life. Figures such as Pomés are who make society progress, who review and reformulate what is established and who release us from drowsiness. All of us have something inside of Leopoldo Pomés; of experimentation and research curiosities, and it is inside us where we have the energy to carry out those projects that we believe to have hidden, forgotten, because of not having time or enough courage to revive them and who knows, progress.

By Guiomar Sánchez Pallarès Translated by Paola López (& Laura Macià)

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