Alfonso Almendros: To Name a Mountain
Spanish photographer Alfonso Almendros has created an elegant, layered narrative with his project and book, To Name a Mountain. Inspired by a story about landscape-painter Albert Bierstadt and the possibility that he named a mountain for a woman he loved secretly, the work is moody, dark, and poetic. It speaks to inner turmoil and desire and the possibilities of what our potent imaginations can inspire.
Alfonso Almendros is a Spanish photographer and lecturer living in Madrid. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor in History of Art from the University of Valencia, an Associate Degree in Artistic Photography from E.A.S.D Valencia and a MA Photography in Efti Madrid.
His work has been exhibited internationally, including exhibitions in Encontros da Imagem in Braga, Sala Kursala from the University of Cádiz, the Cultural Center of Spain in Mexico, GuatePhoto 2015, the King Juan Carlos I Center of New York, Article Gallery in Birmingham, Guernsey Photography Festival or the International Festival of Photography in Lodz.
His works has been granted in several international competitions like the V Galician Prize of Contemporary Photography, the Roberto Villagraz Grant 2016, the Photographic Museum of Humanity 2014 grant or the III Convocatoria OCEMX de Fotografía of Mexico. Since 2015, he is a visiting professor at the Instituto Nicaragüense de Enseñanza Audiovisual, the National Cinematheque of Nicaragua, Node Center of Curatorial Studies in Berlin and IED Madrid.
To Name a Mountain
On the spring of 1863, the landscape-painter Albert Bierstadt, started his second tour across the Rocky Mountains with his friend the American writer Fitz Hugh Ludlow. The story says that during their expedition, the painter was astonished by the view of an enormous mountain. Immediately he made a sketch where a dark grey storm crosses an imaginary horizon of gigantic peaks blown out of proportion. Bierstadt entitled his painting “A storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mount Rosalie” in honor of his traveling companion’s wife. The work was interpreted as a representation of his emotional anguish and the mountain, unnamed until that date, was named Mount Rosalie in honor of the woman that Bierstadt secretly loved.
Most critics thought Mount Rosalie was impossibly high. The painting and Bierstadt’s work seem to talk about desire, but always through the excess and the violation of a reality that only seemed suggestive for the artist when it was conducted by his imagination. His idea of beauty oscillated between the sublime exaltation of his emotions and the calculated effectiveness of the forms.
Both contradictory notions though, is it not an audacity and a frustration at the same time to try to reach a summit? Nevertheless, the purpose of naming a mountain is an act charged of poetry. It tells us about the desire of possession and permanence. It reminds us, through creation, of the memory of those we have loved.
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