"Art Always Has to Motivate": An Interview With Photographer Jairo Alvarez

Photographer Jairo Alvarez | Courtesy of Jairo Alvarez
Photographer Jairo Alvarez | Courtesy of Jairo Alvarez
Photo of Kristin Deasy
Contributor15 June 2017

Jairo Alvarez is a young, award-winning Argentinian photographer with an extraordinarily inventive way of seeing the world, both visually and metaphysically. He has had several exhibitions in Europe in 2016, including a project called Slow Road in Italy. The up-and-coming surrealist artist, currently in Africa, shares more with Culture Trip in an exclusive interview, translated from the Spanish:

Your work clearly carries a social commentary. What is the message for your public? Everyone’s going to have their own interpretation, but what types of thoughts or questions do you want your work to encourage?

I believe art always has to motivate, to touch a nerve. There are things that are accepted in our lives or in society that, in day-to-day life, we don’t allow ourselves to see or talk about. So I want to de-contextualize everyday life, to observe the world around me, to see objects and situations from another point of view. I believe it’s a kind of protest against the established norms. That’s why I like to create—I don’t conform with what I see day to day, it’s not enough for me; I need to invent something new, as simple as that. Everything changes depending on the perspective or viewpoint we have on reality, and that’s what I like to show.

Jairo Alvarez's "Raise Ravens" | Courtesy of Jairo Alvarez

You grew up in Argentina. How do you think that influenced or affected your work?

No doubt, my work has been influenced by my environment. Argentina has always been a place of social and economic volatility. I’m no sociologist, but I think Argentinians always know how to rebuild things and find creative solutions to things. Particularly for me, born and raised in a small town [Puan, Argentina] surrounded by nature and beautiful landscapes—this daily contact with nature and its immensity also influenced my photography. Almost all my photographs are taken outside in natural light.

Jairo Alvarez's "Overqualified" | Courtesy of Jairo Alvarez

How did you get started in conceptual photography?

When I was a kid I loved to draw, I did it all the time. As the years went by, I stopped drawing so much and started to get into photography. After spending some time learning to shoot, I realized that I could use photography to transmit my ideas and create something totally new, something unique. I feel like photography is closely related to drawing; the only difference is, now it’s the camera that’s my instrument for bringing concepts into reality.

Unititled by Jairo Alvarez | Courtesy of Jairo Alvarez

Who are your artistic icons? Your intellectual icons?

René Magritte, Pawel Kuczynski, Salvador Dalí, Wes Anderson, Christoph Niemann. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Eckhart Tolle, Alejandro Dolina.

Jairo Alvarez's "Red Lips" | Courtesy of Jairo Alvarez

See more of Alvarez’s work here.

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