EXHIBITION: The Zubiaurres

The Zubiaurres
Graphic memory
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has gathered together an extensive collection of photographs and films relating to Valentín and Ramón de Zubiaurre. The contents originate from the family and reveal the fact that these two reputed painters, in different periods of their lives, were photographers and filmmakers. More than one thousand two hundred photographs –glass plate negatives and positive prints, bound or loose– have been preserved as well as twenty-seven films.

The photographic and cinematographic collection bequeathed to us by the Zubiaurre family has a rational explanation when observed from the perspective of the social uses of photography, from a historiographical approach that offers a sound interpretation of the social and cultural phenomenon represented by the penetration of the photographic medium into the private space. A process associated with amateurism and which was key to the emergence of family life chronicles that focused, above all, on leisure and recreational activities. No satisfactory explanation can be found for the amateur practice of these two reputed painters in other traditional approaches, such as the artistic or the documentary, and, on the contrary, its reading is wholly consistent with the private uses that this family made of their photographs and films. But Ramón and Valentín were not typical enthusiasts, given that their background in painting furnished them with an extensive visual culture, an ability to look at reality and produce images far superior to the average amateurs of their times.

It must be borne in mind that, out of all of the photographs they took, it is in some albums compiled by the family in the early 20th century where we find these photographers' declaration of intent, their true photographic discourse. The four albums of their youth, dedicated to their stays in the Basque Country, build a space for family reminiscence through accounts that are a chronicle and a reminder of their activities, in tandem with forming a kind of fiction around their life. These are accounts in which enormous importance is attached to the family's place of origin and to the stories constructed there.

Because right from their earliest years, the Zubiaurre brothers showed a noteworthy passion for creating accounts with a fixed photographic image, a certain pre-cinematographic yearning that enhanced their expressive possibilities in this field with the help of the texts written by these photographers' mother at the bottom of the photographs comprising the albums. A quarter of a century later, Ramón and Valentín resumed their recording of family life using an amateur cine-camera with which they fulfilled that childish yearning to tell stories, this time through moving pictures. And the truly surprising thing is that, after such a long time, they were to film practically the same things they had photographed in their youth. There is a clear thematic, geographical and even conceptual continuity running through both productions.

Thus, through the graphic memory compiled from their photographs and films, both brothers assembled imagery that serves to link these two media to their pictorial output. Because it is all nourished by the same social, cultural and scenic reality that the Zubiaurre family frequented throughout their life and which ended up shaping the thematic universe that inspires most of Valentín's and Ramón's artistic work.


Exhibition in Garai

Coupled with the exhibition at the museum in Bilbao, and with the collaboration of the Town Council of Garai, a selection of photographs and films relating to this territory which the Zubiaurre brothers were so closely linked to is also on show. This sample (08.06.2019–04.08.2019) can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays at the San Juan Evangelista church in the town of Garai.
Opening: 05/06/2019
From: 05/06/2019
Until: 06/10/2019
Schedule: 10:00 - 20:00h
Location: Museo Plaza 2, 48009 Bilbao

Date

05/06/2019 - 06/10/2019

Time

10:00 - 20:00

Location

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
Museo Plaza, 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia

Location 2

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