The Syngenta Photography Award: Professional Commission Finalists

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Pablo Lopez Luz

The main concern behind my work is the reinterpretation of the artistic approach to the concept of “landscape”. For five years, I worked on photographing the urban landscape of Mexico City and other major cities in Mexico, as well as different scenarios in nature around the country, approaching these places through an aesthetic deeply rooted in the historical tradition of painting, as well as in the history of photography. My specific intention is to reinterpret the classical notion of the Mexican landscape (present throughout the pictorial history of Mexican art), through a contemporary point of view, brought about by the presence of man and the relationship to his surroundings. This specific relationship between man and space is what brings most of my photographic work together, and is also probably the strongest viewpoint in both aesthetic and conceptual terms.

In this selection, including photographs from different cities in Mexico, the focus of the work is mainly directed towards the manipulated or constructed landscape of the city. Although there are numerous ways in which the work can be read or interpreted, my main concern behind this work is to portray the effect that overpopulation and the lack of structure or guidelines in the development of a city have had on the city’s terrain, land and population. The thesis of this project draws attention to several different subjects such as the social implications of living in these cities (urban vs rural societies), the modification and transformation of the natural space into the urban megalopolis and the historical emergence of a new landscape; a social landscape that remains animated, always expanding and in constant change. I chose this specific group of photographs not only because they relate to this year’s theme ‘Rural-Urban’, but also because they work well together as a coherent group of images. However, throughout my career, the urban-rural, urban-natural relationship has always been behind my projects, both in Natura (2007-2008), a project about the naturalistic and idyllic landscapes of Mexico that remain untouched by the cities, and in Acapulco (2010-2011), where I shot aerial views of the tourism developments of the city, in an attempt to comment on the industry’s continuous attempt to recreate the natural scenarios that were there before they arrived. In the presented series, Terrazo (2005-2009), the city is presented as a continuously shifting landscape, where the threat of the urban spread over the rural land is always present. Some of the images in this selection relate directly to the historical and pictorial landscapes of the Valley of Mexico City in the first part of the 20th century, where the natural valley remained yet unconquered. However in these photographs, where the presence of man can be linked to the roads dissecting the natural space, the city rests in the background, sometimes unseen, quickly reaching the unscathed terrain.

Click here to view images of Lopez's work.

Click here to learn about the other finalists.

Text courtesy of Syngenta