Date of this Version
SHELDON MUSEUM OF ART, SHELDON ART ASSOCIATION. March 28 - June 1, 2008
The images in Metaphors of the Heart are the creations of impassioned photographer Luis Gonzalez Palma. The Mayan and Mestizo subjects of Palma's portraits radiate beauty and spiritual strength and at the same time an intense sorrow that tugs at the heartstrings. His photographs of empty rooms are lonely yet elegantly dignified spaces. For the viewer, the emotional connection is immediate.
Palma's life in Latin America, a place rich in cultural heritage and political struggles, and his Catholic upbringing might explain his desire and perhaps also his need to express these dualities in his photographs. Palma was born in Guatemala in 1957. His country's civil war had a profound effect on his young adult years. Trained as an architect Palma also studied filmmaking but his schooling at the University was interrupted by the threat of strife. His Catholic rearing and interest in the passion and suffering depicted in religious iconography, as well as pre-colonial religious mythology, add a mystic reverence to his imagery.
Palma's career in photography began in 1984 when he borrowed a camera to photograph dancers and their movement. This led to an interest in performers and circus personnel, costumes and drama. An early objective for Palma was to challenge standard photography and to create a reality infused with artificiality.
In 1987 he began copying his images on wood, cloth, manuscripts and even stone. And, although Palma photographs indigenous people, he makes a conscious effort to avoid a documentary style. His subjects are often friends and acquaintances who participate in the drama created by the artist. Yet, Palma's intent is sincere. For him the indigenous faces of his chosen subjects are metaphors for sorrow and pain. The silent communication of the gaze in his portraits represents the fear and silence in which Guatemalans have lived their lives.