Artist Andrés de Varona’s photographs show his perspective on human life, addressing loss, conflict, and grief.
Santa Fe, NM | andresmario.com | @andres.deva
Andrés Mario de Varona’s photographs convey intense pathos and vigor. His images are variously eerie, uplifting, and gritty. They share a deeply thoughtful and moving perspective on human life.
“The camera is my tool to measure cycles of indignation and of healing, as well as our growth as human beings, and as a way to record victories,” says de Varona, whose mother passed away when he was on the cusp of adulthood. “I’ve learned to speak a language true to myself. My mother’s passing helped me discover this. It galvanized my need to know more about who I am and what I can express.”
His photo series Contact surreally documents de Varona’s grieving process. The photos capture moments from ceremonies the family created to explore their shared loss. Rituals incorporate objects that belonged to de Varona’s mother (for example, clothes that were bought but never worn) and otherworldly light effects. The results are at once heartbreakingly personal and universal. Death is “one of life’s few hard guarantees,” he reminds us.
Moving to New Mexico marked a shift for de Varona. His recent series, TRIALS, reflects the artist’s evolving “obsession with life.” Images explore an energetic array of people, questions, and ways of being alive. A suspended mask demands a consideration of identity, which some images ambiguously seem to embrace and others to reject. A woman in a hole may be endeavoring to emerge from or hide in the earth.
Other work explores de Varona’s Cuban roots, the concepts of refuge and shelter, and America’s tragic need to reckon with school shootings. His oeuvre deals with conflict so honestly that it feels urgent to pay attention.
A solo show of Contact x Trials at Vital Spaces Annex Gallery in Santa Fe recently came to a close. De Varona’s work has also been shown nationally in Indiana, Colorado, Vermont, Washington D.C., and internationally in Japan and South Korea.