Alberto Garcia Alix
by John Bascombe on Thursday, October 2, 2014
La Movida Madrileña in Pictures
La Movida Madrileña was the movement that took place in post dictatorship Spain during the late 70's and early 80's. This social movement was like a cork popping from a bottle of cava—years of pent up angst and repression suddenly exploded onto the streets. Taboo subjects like sex, sexuality and alternative living were now free to be expressed in public without fear of reprisal. Freedom of expression was now something real. Madrid wasn't the only city to experience this kind of Movida; almost all large cities experienced it in one form or another like Barcelona, Vigo and Bilbao. But Madrid was the maximum exponent of this new trend with people like Almodovar, Alaska, Vicente Molina Foix and Loquillo giving it a face and voice.
But faces have to be transmitted and the happenings of this time needed to be recorded. Video was still relatively new and a medium would be needed to visually capture the happenings during this turbulent and exciting moment in post-Franco Spain. Photographers were an important element to capturing what was happening and one photographer, in particular, captured the essence of the Spanish counterculture: Alberto García-Alix.
Born in 1959 in the city of León he later moved to Madrid. He studied law but dropped out of university, later he studied science and, again, didn't finish his studies. Feeling the need to explore and do something different, he got a used Nikon F2 camera and began to work as a Photographer. In 1980, two of his portraits were published in the alternative magazine "Dezine". This would mark the beginning of his involvement with the Movida and the start of a portfolio which captures an era and amazes for its scope and quality.
His portraits present a raw and hard look at the Movida showing the Spanish counterculture without the romance or clichés that are so often associated with this turbulent time. Fashion, sex, people and drug use are the focus of his work which is biting, honest and, at times, painful. His black and white portraits will amaze you with their graphic power and intensity. Almodovar, Rossy de Palma, and Camarón de la Isla have been captured by García Alix's lens and are now remembered in images that have been burned into the collective memory of all Spaniards.
His self portraits are also a very important part of his work. These self portraits document his involvement (for better and worse) in the Movida and help us understand why he was able to take the pictures his took. When asked, in a 2014 interview, about why his self portraits never favor his looks in a 2014 interview, he responded: "What is considered beauty, the canons of beauty…don't pertain to me. I don't try to look good in my photographs…that would be my (artistic) death, my ruin. I try to understand myself within a space."
Today, Garciá-Alix continues to find inspiration in a world that many people will never experience firsthand. His ability to move in through and capture the world of the marginalized and disaffected is a testimony to his authenticity as a photographer. For his work he has received the Spanish National Photography Award in 1999 and was a special guest at the world renowned ARCO Art Fair in Madrid. He has also received the Bartholome Ross Award at Photo España in 2003. He returned to Photo España in 2014 with an extensive exhibit dedicated to his self portraits.
Alberto García-Alix has said that his work is nothing more than his expression of the relation between his life and the environment. He has said that "we are all marginalized in this life, some in one way and other in another" and his work is nothing more than real life in black and white.
Keywords: movida madrileña,spain photography,alberto garcia alix,movida madrilena,arco art fair,post-franco spain,spanish photographer