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The "Colombian Imaginary" by photographer Leo Matiz comes to the MUN, images that invite us to discover the people, work and nature of the environment in which he was born.

The exhibition, curated by Enric Mira and with the partnership of the Leo Matiz Foundation, gathers the images he took in his native Aracataca and his region, Magdalena, between 1947 and the 1970s.

FotoMANUELCASTELLS/MUN/Curator Enric Mira; the president of the Leo Matiz Foundation and daughter of the artist, Alejandra Matiz; and the artistic director of the MUN, Valentín Vallhonrat.

15 | 03 | 2023

Vital, tireless and obsessive with the perfection of his work as a photojournalist, Leo Matiz traveled the five continents with his Rolleiflex camera. Born in 1917 in Aracataca (Magdalena, Colombia), the photographer, who always maintained his vocation as an artist, traveled to Mexico, where he achieved great fame, and then returned to his native country and Venezuela. Leo Matiz. Colombian Imaginarythe exhibition that opens at the Museo Universidad de Navarra, gathers precisely the work that he made in Aracataca and its region, in the period between 1947 and the beginning of the 70s.

The sample, curated by Enric Mira, with the support of partnership of the Leo Matiz Foundation, based in Mexico, brings together 123 photographs, all period copies, signed by the artist and printed by himself, as well as two showcases with books and documents. The curator, accompanied by Valentín Vallhonrat, director , the Museum's artistic director, took part in the media presentation at the presentation . Also present at presentation were Alejandra Matiz, daughter of the artist and president of the Leo Matiz Foundation, and Gabriela Willson, patron of the MUN.

"This exhibition offers a documentary photography that presents different traits from what he did in Mexico, where he used a lot of close-ups, more contrasted images, of a certain epic and visual rhetoric. Imaginario colombiano is more in tune with what is taking place on an international level: a photography of a humanist current, which tries to reflect the human being in his environment, in his living conditions... It is a more direct approach, more frank, sharper, less interpretative. There is a register closer to the documentary than to the rhetorical. Although there is a certain continuity in the subject matter, because we see workers, peasants, the day-to-day life of people in Colombia, mainly in the countryside, working as bricklayers or in the oil industry, people who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow," Mira explains.


He also notes that "Matiz always maintained the aspiration of being an artist and never ignored it. Like many other important photographers of the 20th century, from his work as a photojournalist he derived his artistic work. His art is in his profession.

The sample is structured in four series. On the one hand, The Jobs and the Days brings together photographs that reflect the material living conditions of the inhabitants of the Colombian region of Magdalena and their daily struggle for survival. The series The cadence of time sample shows people watching time go by, not as passive or indolent beings but as expectant ones: they are waiting or passing through. Territory and collective imaginary claims an intimate relationship between space and report, and territory is presented as both a geographical and a mental space. Finally, Antropológica is an approach to Colombia's racial diversity, the associated cultural stereotypes and the material hardships that surround it.

"They are not watertight compartments, but the pieces could be interchangeable to a certain extent. But they seek to offer a new reading of Leo Matiz's work by attending to criteria such as the race of the people represented, the trades they perform, the territory where they are born, work and move or their way of being in that place, how they live time, music, play or transit," the curator explains.

In addition to being anthropological documents, these images are the expression of a cultural and literary imaginary. Thus, they invite us to discover the characters, situations, jobs, nature and legends that mark the daily life of the territory in which they are located.