- The pieces being shown to the public are Dearborisperennis, by José Manuel Ballester, the 2023 recipient of the ENAIRE Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and the collective exhibit of this year's ENAIRE Foundation's photography award winners

- Photographer Marina Vargas wins the ENAIRE Foundation Photography Award 2023 for her workRomperelcanon

- Both selections can be visited until 28 August

The Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid have been selected to officially open PHotoESPAÑA 2023, where the ENAIRE Foundation is once more staging the festival’s inaugural exhibits. On display is, on the one hand, Dearboris perennis, by José Manuel Ballester, the 2023 recipient of the ENAIRE Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, and on the other, a collective exhibit of the 2023 ENAIRE Foundation’s photography award winners. Two exhibitions that rely on the language of photography to focus on environmental issues, caring for nature and the relationship between mankind and the environment.

Yet again this year, the ENAIRE Foundation is reinforcing its partnership with PHotoESPAÑA and joining forces to promote this important festival and bring its artistic propositions to a wider audience and more enthusiasts, arousing the interest of specialists, critics and professionals in the industry and in cultural affairs.

The Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Maria Paz Martí Esteban; the president of La Fábrica, Alberto Anaut; the director of PHotoESPAÑA, Claude Bussac, and the artist José Manuel Ballester visited the ENAIRE Foundation exhibits and spoke with the winning artists of this year’s edition: Marina Vargas, the team made up of Jonás Bel and Rafael Trapiello, as well as the third-place winner, Cristóbal Ascencio Ramos, whose works will become part of the ENAIRE Collection of Contemporary Art.

Dearborisperennis, the latest project by José Manuel Ballester

The winner of the National Photography Award and the 4th ENAIRE Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, José Manuel Ballester, presents at the Villanueva Pavilion his Dearborisperennis, a project in which the photographer turns his focus to trees to draw attention to our relationship with the environment.

José Manuel Ballester’s work is part of an intense internal search, an infinite curiosity that leads him to capture with his camera those elements that surround him and move him, that connect with his inner world.

This project, which features works from different series, begins with his “hidden spaces”, images of master paintings that, stripped of the inhabitants who populate them, highlight the landscapes that were confined to the background. These are settings where humans are nowhere to be seen, they have disappeared, creating an enigmatic void full of possibilities. They include Giotto’sforest, an installation made up of five large canvases that is being displayed for the first time.

Along with these images, the exhibit takes visitors on a tour through many different places, such as New York’s skyscrapers, a remote temple in Sichuan, subway exits in large cities, Parisian parks, the Brazilian jungle, gardens and orchards. All of these spaces are very different, but with a repeating element: the tree. An essentially urban element that in Ballester’s work becomes a metaphor for mankind’s relationship with the environment. For Ballester, botanical gardens are cherished and desired places.

Madrid’s, moreover, has had a particular significance for him since his years as a fine arts student. Today, it’s a space that beckons him, and that he often visits; almost as much as the nearby Prado Museum. Showing his own creation in this setting, this fusion between space and works, represents a symbiosis for the artist with a very special meaning.

The exhibit, which brings together 38 large works, is curated by Lola Durán Úcar, a PhD in Art History, and rounding it out is an 80-page catalogue, co- published with La Fábrica

In addition, as part of theDearborisperennisproject, José Manuel Ballester proposes a unique experience: a stroll through the trees of the Botanical Garden selected by the author and accompanied by some of his favourite poems, recited by Carlos del Amor, which can be heard amongst the trees using QR codes.

Collective exhibit of the 2023 ENAIRE Foundation Photography Award winners

Meanwhile, the south wing of the Villanueva Pavilion hosts the collective exhibit of the winners and finalists of the 2023 ENAIRE Foundation Awards.

Marina Vargas, with her work Romperelcanon(Breaking barriers) (2021), won first prize. The jury noted the “formal perfection and the academic overtones of the image that, far from narrating a typical image in an art academy, what appears to be a session on life drawing becomes a manifesto, since the author shows her body and her scars with pride and courage while several artists paint her. It is her way of breaking barriers”.

The second prize went to the team of Jonás Bel and Rafael Trapiello for their work SanMamésdeBurgos (2023), and third place went to Cristóbal Ascencio for his workBosques(Forests) (2023).

Along with the three winning works, the exhibition includes 15 finalists of this year’s edition, including the PHotoESPAÑA honourable mention, presented to Mymother’sweddingGlasswareII (2022) by photographer Alfonso Almendros.

The remaining works selected are: UFO presencias (2019), by Javier Arcenillas; IslaSantonegro3(2020), by Josep María Sau; Elmundooculto (2022), by David Flores Torrecillas; naturÁnimapaisajecontinuocosta(2022),by Carma Casulá; Untitledof the ElParaísoComeCarneseries (2018-2022), by Elena de la Rúa; Eco-003(2022), by Lidia Esther Díaz Gil; Geometrías intermediasnº15(2022), by Rosa Muñoz; Pinegre(2022), by Eva Miquel Tortosa; Clareo (2022), by Ana Amado; ÜylerTemirtau (2017), by Esther García Rodríguez; HelenaMaría(2023), by Paola Bragado; Torredeciudad alta(2021), by María Rodríguez Cadenas; Vaciarsepararecibir(2022), by Macarena Gross andUnademocraciaenfatigaII(2023), by Gloria Oyarzabal.

De arboris perennis exhibits. José Manuel Ballester and the 2023 ENAIRE Foundation Photography Awards, open to the public through 28 August.

Royal Botanical Garden (Plaza de Murillo, 2. 28014 Madrid)
Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Admission €6

The work of the ENAIRE Foundation

The ENAIRE Foundation is a cultural organisation linked to ENAIRE. Its objectives include the fostering of aeronautical culture and the preservation, expansion and spreading of ENAIRE’s artistic heritage.

This heritage consists of a notable collection of Spanish and Ibero-American art, spanning from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day, and encompassing more than a thousand works of all types. In addition, since last July, the ENAIRE Foundation has had a permanent venue for the ENAIRE Collection of Contemporary Art at the Naves de Gamazo in Santander.

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