Andrea Torres Balaguer Pushes The Boundaries Of Portrait Photography

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The Unknown
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Spanish fine art photographer Andrea Torres Balaguer deconstructs the meaning of portrait photography with her faceless series ‘The Unknown’ and ‘Moon’.

“I think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph,” Duane Michals once said. When you look at Balaguer’s photos, you can’t help but think of Michals’ influence. Balguer has spoken about her fascination with Michals’ work, frequently citing him as her biggest inspiration. In some ways, her work can be seen as a homage to the great photographer: ‘The Unknown’ and ‘Moon’ are two series which depict women with their faces covered or backs turned away from the camera.

That a portrait photograph should only tell you a one-dimensional narrative is something that Michals has worked his entire career to challenge. Similarly, Balaguer’s images are shrouded in mystery and ambiguity — it is up to the viewer to interpret who the woman is, what kind of life they lead, where they may come from and so on. This preoccupation with mystery has remained a constant in Balaguer’s photography — her past work being dominated by the subconscious and the limits of dreams. Balaguer’s background in fine arts also greatly impacts her work. ‘The Unknown’ and ‘Moon’ are expertly framed; the composition of colors and positions adding meaning and depth to her photographic approach.

All images © Andrea Torres Balaguer

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