Gonzalo Benard is, quite frankly, one of the most astonishing photographers I’ve come across. I previously posted up a series of his called ‘B Shoot By A Stranger’ which was breathtaking not only in aesthetic terms but in its concept, its birth, a supreme idea with depth. This series, called ‘Oneness’, is powerful, primal, pagan and shamanistic with subtle sexual undertones and brings to mind – not that I know many photographers – the work of Misha Gordin and Robert Mapplethorpe. Natasha Christia explains his work much better than I ever could:
Black and white has become the means of expression in Bénard’s photographic practice. Bénard avoids the exuberance of colour and prefers to limit his vocabulary to the basics. The path towards personal truth is always ascetic and so is his photography. Juxtaposed with earth symbols and animals and deprived of any clothes, the body is introduced to a nexus of complex symbolic connotations, alluding to myths and pagan legends. Bénard’s vision emanates from a nature outside the context of western culture. His spiritual journeys have brought him close to tribes and cultures as much diverse as the aboriginal and Las Madres del Santo in Brazil. In this search for the intangible, the body and the soul proclaim relevance as vehicles of a non-verbal entropic narrative that resides outside the margins of history. In this respect, Bénard’s self-portraits defy any notion of the ego. They operate as “non-portraits”, within which the artist is a rendered part of the form and the medium.
Benard himself has this to say about himself and his work:
Creating. Dialogue. Oneness. Humankind. Nature. Life. and Human Non-Sense.
These words are those that crop up most in G.Bénard’s mind-bank, in both his consciousness and his subconscious. Creating is the result of the need to express. The need to express through art and to create a dialogue between living beings; to lead to the oneness of humans and their surroundings. Man-Woman-Animal. Dialogue leading to oneness of gender, ritual, rite. Dialogue about life. Dialogue as creator, as observer, as author, as part of oneness. Part of the world. Part of life.
Gonzalo Bénard can create and be involved in the rituals and cultures of life. As oneness. As nature. As light itself.
Gonzalo Bénard is a creator of human portraits. Is a creator of portraits of persons. In the black. And in the white.
I will be coming back to Benard again. For sure. In the meantime you should have a look at the rest of this series and read the accompanying texts he has on his website.
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