IN PICS: The 10 best exhibitions at PHotoEspaña 2018

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Rory Jones - [email protected]
IN PICS: The 10 best exhibitions at PHotoEspaña 2018

In honour of its 20th anniversary, Madrid’s international festival of photography and visual arts, PHotoEspaña, has curated 100 exhibitions which comprise the work of 514 artists spread out over 62 venues.


The exhibitions assemble photographs from May until September by both internationally renowned artists and  homegrown Spanish favourites, from collections by the legendary Magnum agency to the first photographic outing of Spain’s leading film director Pedro Almodóvar. Here are The Local’s picks:

Pedro Almodóvar - ‘Vida Detenida’, Marlborough Gallery. June 7th-September 8th

A still life from Pedro Almodóvar's exhibition. Credit: Marlborough Gallery.

While working on the script for his upcoming film Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory), Spanish cinema legend Pedro Almodóvar began to take still life photographs around his house to entertain himself during breaks. Almodóvar describes the resulting work, which brings together 30 intimate images of household objects such as dishes, flowers and food, as being “born out of moments of solitude and stillness.” They will be exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery from June 7th until September 8th. 

Magnum Photographers Come out to Play, Espacio Fundación Telefónica. May 9th-September 16th

A Carolyn Drake photograph from the Magnum collection. Credit: PHotoEspaña

In this exhibition, over 20 photographers from the iconic Magnum agency present works that aim to show the often highbrow collective in a more “relaxed” mode, unburdened by the expectation of “having to engrave in stone universal truths in each shot”. ‘Players’ presents 150 photographs linked by the theme of ‘play’. 

The Greatest Show on Earth, Centro Cultural de la Villa. June 6th-July 29th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

The Greatest Show on Earth collects images from the Archive of Modern Conflict that display the weird and wonderful world of circus life during its early 20th century golden era, brought together to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the modern circus.

Carmen Calvo - Repose and Dizziness, Cerralbo Museum. June 8th-September 16th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Valencian artist and Winner of the National Visual Arts Award Carmen Calvo repurposes family photos from the mid-twentieth century found in markets, modifying the forgotten images to lend them new meanings in work in which “feminism and social, moral and religious critique all interlace”.

Carlos Cánovas - In Time, ICO Museum. May 30th-September 9th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

This retrospective of the work of lauded Spanish photographer Carlos Cánovas collates work from the 1980s to the present day, which form a “record of urban transformation” with a focus on landscapes “where nature and human intervention converge”. 

Cecil Beaton: Myths of the 20th Century, Canal de Isabel II Foundation. May 31st-August 19th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Portrait photographer to the Winsdors and Vogue magazine and two time Academy Award winner for Best Costume, revered British lensman Cecil Beaton is celebrated in this retrospective which gathers some of his finest work from the 1920s to the 1970s. 

The Soviet Century: Russian Photography from the Lafuente Archive, Circulo de Bellas Artes. June 6th-September 16th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Alberto Ruiz de Samaniego curates over 800 images that document the social and political evolution of Russia during the 20th century, gathering not only photographs but other artefacts such as postcards and negatives that reveal details of life during the rise of the Soviet regime.

Discovering Luis Masson, Museo Lázaro Galdiano. June 6th-August 26th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

This extraordinary exhibition recovers the until now undiscovered work of French photographer Luis Masson, which forms a topography of various Spanish cities and regions in the mid-nineteenth century. The images document the nation from Andalusia to Madrid to the Basque Country during the earliest stages of photography. 

Moda! Spanish fashion through photography, Museo del Traje. June 14th-September 23rd

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Photographs from international publications such as Vogue, Elle and Harpers Bazaar are brought together to honour Spanish fashion of various periods and styles during the last hundred years.

s.m.a.r.t Paths Towards Sustainability, Real Jardín Botánico. June 7th-August 26th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

The theme that links this exhibition, which gathers the work of eight different photographers, is the damage inflicted on the environment by human activity and the possibility of achieving sustainability. It aims to encourage the five concepts the acronym of the title refers to:  Sustainability, Mitigation, Adaptation, Resilience and Transformation.

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