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Unai San Martín: Gran VíaOctober 2009–March 2010


Certain places of a city become mythologies, both historical and private. Madrid’s Gran Vía is one such emblematic place, not only witness to social events but also to countless personal experiences that occur on its corners and crossroads, day and night.

Unai San Martín, using the subtle technique of heliogravure and its infinite range from white to black, brings us back to that Gran Vía a public place as well as a private memory.

In these heliogravures the presence of the shadow is especially important.

An ancient legend mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) places the origin of painting in Corinth, where a young girl, the daughter of the potter Butades of Sicyon, is said to have drawn the outline of her beloved’s shadow on a wall by the light of a candle.

The shadow as a theme has always been inextricably linked to the history of Western art. Although used basically for naturalistic purposes to enhance the credibility of the subject depicted, each period has assigned it its own connotations. Photography which has been described as the art of light and shadow is rarely link to heliogravure.

By means of the heliogravure technique, Unai San Martin transfers a photographic negative, using light and gelatines, to a copper plate. This plate is later printed in a screw press in the same way as an ordinary aquatint print. The heliogravure, a widely explored technique by the artist during the years he has lived in California, allows him to manipulate the plate in order to modify the light and obtain black in all its tones.

This portfolio comprises of six heliogravures on 300 gr Hannemuhle paper. An edition of 35 has been published, numbered from 1/35 to 35/35. The series was printed at the artist’s workshop in San Rafael, California.

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José Guerrero in the workshop of Perry Oliver

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