Posts Tagged ‘iquitos’

Adrián Portugal & Asunción ‘Ashuco’ Araujo – Las Vírgenes de la Cumbia

September 12, 2013
Adrián Portugal & Asunción 'Ashuco' Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción ‘Ashuco’ Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción 'Ashuco' Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción ‘Ashuco’ Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción 'Ashuco' Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción ‘Ashuco’ Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción 'Ashuco' Araujo

Adrián Portugal & Asunción ‘Ashuco’ Araujo

Vice Magazine recently featured on their website several photographs from a collaborative body of worked called Las Vírgenes de la Cumbia by photographer Adrián Portugal and the painter Ashuco. It features photographs of young female dancers who are a common feature of cumbia concerts in Peru that have then been painted over with florescent paint. This work was featured in the exhibit Selva Virgen Salvaje y Sensual that was shown last year in Lima. I’m glad to see some of these works online as I wasn’t able to see the show.

I’m not usually a fan of painted-on photographs but I think the technique here works with the subject matter of the pictures. Ashuco is a local painter from Iquitos who generally works with florescent paint which is commonly used in the decoration of bars and discos in Iquitos. Interestlingly, last year I came across another project involving a photographer and a local painter from the jungle region of Peru that also involves painted-on photographs, Cura Loca by Stephane Moiroux and Paolo Del Aguila Sajami.

Selva Virgen at Casa Inmobiliaria in Lima, Peru

July 26, 2012

I have some photos up in a group show in Lima called Selva Virgen, Salvaje y Sensual. It’s currently up at the Casa Inmobiliaria located on Javier Prado Oeste and Los Castanos (on the off chance you’re in Lima). The title translates as “Virgin Jungle: Salvage and Sensual.” The photos mostly deal with the culture and people of the  Amazon region in Peru. In the rest of Peru, the region and especially it’s largest city Iquitos is perceived as sensual and libertine, a sort of Brazil-in-Peru. A lot of the photos in the exhibit deal with this one way or another.

Here’s the promo card for the exhibit:

Selva Virgen promo image

The show features ten photographers and two painters. It was curated by the painter Christian Bendayan who is from Iquitos and whom I’ve blogged about before. It’s a real honor to be included in this group and my only regret is not being able to be in Lima to check it out. Fortunately, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to piece together some random shots, which I’ll share here to give you a sense of the show.

Casa Inmobiliaria, site of Selva Virgen show in Lima, Peru (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

The show is housed in a old mansion that will be demolished soon for a luxury high rise. In the meantime, the space is functioning as an art exhibition space (and sales office). Back in March, when I was in Lima, I blogged about a show there called Miscelanea (todo se queda en casa).

Here’s some work by the different photographers in the show:

Adrian Portugal

Adrian Portugal (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

Adrian Portugal of Supay Fotos, features images of female dancers and it looks like they are over-painted with black-light paint. This neon paint is used a lot in popular bars and discos in Iquitos.

Adrian Portugal (photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of

I love the way the paint drips off this photo and glows under the UV light. Again, it’s a shame I can’t go to the show.

Antonio Escalante

Antonio Escalante shows photographs of older women (maybe prostitutes?) in dark interior spaces. In addition to the photos, I like the frames and the colorful wallpaper. In general, there was a lot of thought put into the presentation of the photos and the use of the space.

Antonio Escalante (photo courtesy of

Antonio Escalante (photo courtesy of

Sandro Aguilar has pictures of naked women in the forest and a few pictures taken with a holga that I quite like. I’d love to see more but he doesn’t seem to have a website. Update: he does have a website.

Sandro Aguilar

Sandro Aguilar (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

Sandro Aguilar (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

Rodrigo Rodrich photographs various indigenous groups in the forest with a softbox. I believe these were originally for a magazine assignment. They are nice group arrangements. I think photographing groups is next to impossible so I always appreciate it when I see it done well.

Rodrigo Rodrich

Rodrigo Rodrich (photo courtesy of

Musuk Nolte shows very expressive, black and white pictures of boys with water splashing all around them. I seem to recall these having something to do with the insane asylum in Iquitos, but I may be confusing these with other photographs.

Musuk Nolte (photo courtesy of

Musuk Nolte (photo courtesy of

Gihan Tubbeh’s photos feature female erotic dancers.

Gihan Tubbeh (photo courtesy of

Marcos Lopez, from Argentina, features several photographs from the main cemetery in Iquitos, altho it looks like they were instead painted on the wall for the exhibit, which looks really cool.

Marcos Lopez

Marcos Lopez (photo courtesy of

Morfi Jimenez does black and white portraits, often with flash, which he then colors-in, in the mode of Felice Beato or Jan Saudek (the promo-card image for the show is his).

Morfi Jimenez (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

Here’s a gallery of Jimenez’s Iquitos images (since they don’t seem to be on his website).

Carlos Sanchez Giraldo is showing this series of three, round panels that look like they are painted. Sanchez also organized the Retratos Pintados show that I really liked back in March.

Carlos Sanchez Giraldo (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

Carlos Sanchez Giraldo

I’m in the show too 🙂

This is actually my first curated group show, so I’m really pleased. The work and the installations look amazing. I’m just sad I can’t be in Lima to see the show. I’m showing a selection of portraits that I made last year in Iquitos.

My photos (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

My photos (photo courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

Carlos below his photo (courtesy of Carlos Pacaya)

That’s Carlos, one of the guys I photographed, standing below his photo in the show. He lives in Lima now, so he was able to attend the opening (and post a lot of these pictures to Facebook, not to mention give me permission to post them here). I haven’t put any of this work up on my website yet. I was in Iquitos again this year and made a ton more portraits which I haven’t been able to scan yet. I do have the photos from last year scanned but I’ve been waiting to do a more final edit. Still, here’s a few of my portraits that were in the show.




Here’s a full list of the participating photographers (with links, where I found them): Antonio Escalante, Musuk Nolte, Adrián Portugal, Morfi Jimenez, Rodrigo Rodrich, Marcos López, Gihan Tubbeh, Sandro Aguilar, José Ashuco Araujo, Carlos Sánchez Giraldo and Luis Sakiray.

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

May 18, 2012

While still in Lima, I was browsing an old issue from a defunct French photography magazine that focuses on photography collectives. I discovered this project, Cura Loca which is a collaboration between French photographer Stephane Moiroux and Peruvian Amazonian painter Paolo Del Aguila Sajami.

It depicts people undergoing treatments for various ailments (physical, mental, spiritual) by local shamans in the Peruvian Amazon (mostly around the city of Pucallpa) and often using psychoactive plants such as ayahuasca.

Del Aguila paints over Moiroux’s photographs with fascinating results.

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Cura Loca – Stephane Moiroux & Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

These photos try to accomplish the impossible; depict the mental state of someone undergoing these traditional treatments. Still, the results are surprising and a true collaboration. These photos without the painting would be totally different. Also Del Aguila’s paintings only vaguely resemble his contributions to these photographs. Here’s a sample of one of his paintings:

Paolo Del Aguila Sajami

Moiroux doesn’t have a personal website but this page has several galleries of his work, including Cura Loca. You can see this series on La Lettre de la Photographie.

Supay Fotos – Border

May 13, 2012

It’s a couple of months now since I left Iquitos, but I still have the jungle on my mind.

Supay Fotos is a collective of photographers in Peru who work both individually as well as a collaborating on projects. While I was in Lima they had a show of photos on Iquitos called Borde (which means border or edge, as in ‘the edge of reason’). One of their members, Adrian Portugal, whom I had the pleasure of meeting while I was in Iquitos, recently sent me some photos of the project.

From the series ‘Borde’ by Supay Fotos

From the series ‘Borde’ by Supay Fotos

From the series ‘Borde’ by Supay Fotos

Again, I was super-lucky to be in Lima and be able to visit this show. Here are a couple of photos from the exhibit:

Exhibition of ‘Borde’ in Lima

Exhibition of ‘Borde’ in Lima

The New  Yorker published one of Portugal’s images for a story back in 2010. For the occasion, their blog Photo Booth, wrote a post about Supay’s work.

Christian Bendayàn – El Paraíso del Diablo

March 20, 2012

I try not to write about shows that are already down but given that I’m in Lima and you probably aren’t, it’s a moot point, so I’ll go ahead. I had the luck recently to see a show by Christian Bendayán, a Peruvian painter from Iquitos. I posted about him last year and it was a real pleasure to see his large scale paintings in person. His work has been a huge influence on me in photographing in Iquitos. The paintings were on view at the Sala Luis Miró Quesada Garland.

El Encuentro del Amazonas by Christian Bendayán

The show is called El Paraíso del Diablo or The Devil’s Paradise and deals with the contemporary culture of the Peruvian Amazon, but also with the dark history of exploitation and the loss of memory and culture. The center piece of the show is a painting entitled El Encuentro del Amazonas. It’s update of a mural by Amazonian painter Cesar Calvo de Araujo which was destroyed in 2009 when the old city hall of Iquitos was (illegally) demolished. The mural depicted the discovery of the Amazon by Francisco de Orellana in 1542. In Bendayán’s painting, he follows the general composition of Calvo’s painting but updates the people with types from modern-day Iquitos. The natives become transvestites in native drag, a catholic priest becomes and evangelical preacher, and so-on.

Detail of El Encuentro del Amazonas by Christian Bendayán

I also quite liked this painting, Fila India, which combines two images from the turn of the century, the background of the Iquitos waterfront by Otto Michael and a photograph of girls from the Boras tribe by Manuel Rodriguez Lira.

Fila India by Christian Bendayán with Carlitos

I asked my friend from Iquitos, Carlitos, to stand in the photo to give a sense of its scale, although Carlitos is only 5′ 3″, so keep that in mind when judging the size. Here are the two source images which were on the wall next to the painting.

Muchachas Boras,by Manuel Rodriguez Lira

Iquitos waterfront in 1910, watercolor by Otto Michael

Also present in the show was this painting, El Curandero del Amor for which Bendayán used flourescent paints commonly used is bars and discos in Iquitos.

El Curandero del Amor by Christian Bendayán

In this interview, in Spanish, Bendayán talks about the link between neon painting in working class pubs (bares populares) and experience of colors and visions of psychoactive drugs like Ayahuasca. He also talks about the distinct culture of the Peruvian Amazon and  the historical cycles of exploitation and corruption.

Studio Thomas – Iquitos, Peru

February 1, 2012

I lucked out. I managed to rent the exact same apartment I had last year in Iquitos. It’s nothing special, but I like the light from the window. Here’s a shot of my very basic “studio”:

My living room in Iquitos

Some of my favorite images from last year were taken in this very spot. I remember at the time feeling guilty for not getting out more (although I did a lot of that too). It seemed impossible that I could make great photos just within the confines of my apartment, especially in such a fascinating city. However, after nine months of ruminating on my work from last year, I decided these portraits are really the core of the project and I could stand to have a few more.

Here’s one from last year, to give you an idea:


Iquitos, again

January 9, 2012

On Wednesday I’m off to Iquitos, Peru, again. I spent a month there last year and now I’m going back. Not only is Iquitos inaccessible by road, the whole city seems to share a single dial-up internet connection. I can check email but that’s about it. So this blog will be a bit quiet for the next couple of months. Meanwhile, here are a few images from last year.

Dawn, Iquitos, Peru

Museo Amazonico, Iquitos, Peru

Discoteca in Iquitos, Peru

Path, near Iquitos, Peru