José Picayo Polaroids (1986 – 2015)

Exhibition Website

Jun 10 2016 - Jan 8 2017

José Picayo creates art that is dictated by and reflective of time. Using instant film, and the time sensitive process of Polaroid Image Transfer, Picayo creates one-of-a-kind images, always surprising in their variations. The nature of the Image Transfer process is to embrace the failure of the medium, as the dyes in the shadows peel away from the paper and create a deteriorated look reminiscent of antique fresco paintings. Often he uses a textured paper, further blurring the lines between photography and printmaking.

Picayo’s Dolls series speaks to the connection between his children and their dolls, but they expand to become a metaphor for people who, like the dolls, fall apart while we try to hold on to them. Works from this series are 20” x 24” format multi-paneled pieces, larger than life images that provide contrast of scale and heighten the sense of the object. The Mugshots series and the Polaroid 600 documentation of his Cuban homeland express the way he sees the world around him. Coinciding with the 2008 discontinuation of Polaroid film, the Mugshots series speaks to the ephemeral nature of the medium. [...]

“In an age of artificial beauty,” Jose Picayo explains, “where absolute perfection has become society’s standard, we are often disheartened by the reality of our own flawed reflections in the mirror.” Inspired by the police mug shot—one-take, unadulterated reality—and the work of August Sander and Michael Disfarmer, who captured a timeless quality in their photographs of all kinds of people, Picayo created his Mug Shots series in 2007-08. He met, interviewed, and photographed—face on and profile—over 1000 people. Coinciding with the 2008 discontinuation of Polaroid film, the Mug Shots series speaks to the ephemeral nature of the medium. For Picayo, Polaroid represents “just a moment in someone’s life (blinking or not).” The project also speaks to the preconceptions of human nature, vilifying innocent subjects through the use of close-cropped and standard poses of the mugshot. To the viewer, each subject becomes guilty of some imagined crime.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Photography
  • American
  • Contemporary
  • Portrait
  • José Picayo

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