An Evocative Visual Language

“If there is no fondness between the model and the photographer, this kind of work cannot be done.” These are the words of Mexican photographer Flor Garduño (b. 1957), known for her astute black and white photography of indigenous peoples and cultures. Inspired by the landscape, literature and art of her native México city, the artist’s images explore themes of mythology, spirituality and the female body. From 15 – 20 February, SOL LDN hosts In Dreams, a pop up exhibition of Garduño’s works from 1982-2022. It’s a show that reveals symmetries and resonances across the last four decades of practice, astounding viewers in its quietly poignant compilations of the spiritual, secular and societal in Central America.

Flor Garduño, 'Septimo sello, México, 2017'

This exhibition marks Garduño’s first solo presentation in London. It delivers an impressive oeuvre that merges surreal portraiture and still-life with more lyrical forms of landscape and documentary photography. Included is the renowned project Witnesses of Time (1992), a series commissioned by the Secretariat of Public Education in order to produce photographs for school textbooks. We witness the artist’s travels through Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru and México. At play is a strong sense of the surreal – we see momentary glimpses that capture life on the precipice. In Canasta de Luz (Basket of Light) (1989), a young girl balances an oversized basket of lilies on her head. White light floods the picture, bathing the flowers in an ethereal, musky glow. Elsewhere, in La mujer que sueña (Woman Who Dreams) (1991), a subject lies on a rug, supine next to a pair of lizards. In addition to renowned works, the show also displays more recent pieces such as Septimo Sello (The Seventh Seal) (2017). Here we see a line of figures posing on stilts. It’s an image of total reliance – the figures stand up by holding onto each other.

Ocotal II, Mexico, 1986 Garduno

Garduño’s capturing of Mexican folklore is distinct in its positioning from a female perspective. She aligns herself with artists such as Frida Kahlo and Graciela Iturbide, opting for a visual language that prioritises the unheard. In Ocotal II, México (1987), a group of girls in white pause by a lake, crouching down mid-conversation. To the right of the picture, one of the children runs across the field, her lace veil streaming out behind her. The photograph is mesmerising – shot without romanticism or sentiment, all the while retaining a subtle timelessness. We feel a sense of kinship between women, something carried through from adolescence to adulthood. In an interview Garduño explains, “I want to express our dignity, beauty, suffering, and resistance. This is the force of our gender.” The artist’s lens is testament to the power of image-making as it invites viewers to find strength and resilience in our most important communities.

Flor Garduño: In Dreams | 15 February – 20 February

Image Credits:

All images courtesy of Flor Garduño.