PhotoEspana 3-Part Artist Series: Juan Bufill

EventsMadridTime Out




PhotoEspaña, the International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts, is the most popular yearly cultural event in Spain judging by the number of visitors who come to the PHE venues: some 700,000 annually. As such, and for the quality of its exhibitions, it is now one of the most relevant visual arts events in the world acclaimed by prestigious critics.

The Festival is an exceptional occasion for discovering images, videos and installations created by outstanding national and international photographers and visual artists.

Since the Festival’s first edition in 1998, more than 900 exhibitions have been hosted in Madrid’s’s main museums, art centers and galleries, among them Casa de América, the Prado, Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums,  Círculo de Belas Artes, Conde Duque Cultural Center, Telefónica and Canal Foundations, and the Centro Cultural de la Villa. Each of these venues – but specially the galleries – hosts one artist and features his own theme.

PhotoEspaña 2014 will be held until July 27.


Time and Light

By Rosa Maria Rojas


In conjunction with PhotoEspaña 2014 Juan Bufill is exhibiting at the Joan Gaspar Gallery on Calle General Castanos 9, 28004 Madrid. Born in Barcelona, Bufill, the second artist in our 3-part artist series, has dedicated most of his life to experimental film and photography. This is the first time he is showing both parts of his works together. The exhibition contains 16 photographs and a video. Each photograph has only five copies on sale. The Bufill exhibition is called “Tiempo y Luz ” (Time and Light).

“Photography means to write or draw with light. Photo = light; graphy = to write or draw. This is the essence of photography whose nature is to write with light,” explains Bufill. For this reason, he says his photographs focus on “escritoras naturales” (natural writings).

He is interested in what the eye cannot see. Using his camera, he captures these unseen moments. His photographs are abstract, to leave room for the viewer’s imagination. He focuses on natural objects and phenomena. These include fire, shadows, trees, and the movement of water.

Bufill uses a blur effect on some photographs to open up space, leaving the viewer lost in the image. Similar to a painter, he uses different shades of colors. He says, “To me, knowing that a picture captures a moment or an instant where something exists is more interesting than drawing something from my imagination.”

Juan Bufill

Juan Bufill

That is exactly what photography is: capturing an instant.

Bufill also wants to experiment and change the definition of photography, which is when he starts using his camera like a pencil.

In his video, he combines still frames of water from Rio Penino in Catalonia. The light from the sun dances on the ripples of the water. Halfway through the video Bufill starts to move the camera as if it was water. He uses this technique to imitate Nature. He points to a picture of the water’s ripples: “This is to show that one thing is fixed in an instant.” Then he points at the video: “This is the contrary”.

He imitates Nature by moving the camera the way Nature would move.

In all his photographs, no object is moving but we see time and movement because of the light and context. Two pictures are placed side-by-side. They are reversed images of each other. The light writes out the numbers 6 and 9 with one dot above them. These two numbers are symmetrical. They bring one another into a full circle.

Bufill likes the idea that each one of us can see something different.  For example, to him the dot looks like gold under the 6, and a crown above the 9.

Among the exhibits, my favorite is “Buy Me I Eat You (Tokyo Before Fukushima).” He shot the picture in the center of Tokyo. “There were so many advertisements,” he tells me, ” it was like an attack saying, `Buy!´” Bufill wanted to make the photograph do the same.

He asked his Japanese friend how to write “light” in Japanese. Using the same technique as the other pictures, Bufill wrote out the symbol for light in Japanese with my camera. In the picture, you can see the movement of the camera as the light fixtures are repeated in the shape of a symbol. Each repetition shows time.

“I once read a quote that said when you start to move a point it becomes a line, so in reality that is what this exhibition is,” explains Bufill. While painting is more defined, photography has room for experimentation and exploration.




Rosa Maria Rojas ID picRosa Maria comes from an artistic family in New York,  attends the City Universtiy of New York Lehman College with a double major in art and multimedia journalism, but is currently living in Spain. Says Rosa, “I love all forms of art but I take a special interest in photography which saves moments that the mind will one day forget.”