Marcel Giró


The São Paulo binomial

Agus Izquierdo

The Fundació Vila Casas fills the Palau Solterra with the work of Palmira Puig and Marcel Giró, a tandem capital in the history of Catalan photography

The samurai mountaineers who invoked Antònia Font, when Antònia Font was still singing. This Mallorcan reminiscence hits me in the head when I contemplate an untitled photograph from 1930. Black and white and nostalgia. A pair of ski poles in the foreground and a flag, waving and out of focus, in the background. It is a piece that transmits the calm of a sea at rest. The work is signed by Marcel Giró and his dreamlike poetics have me hypnotized. It is only one of the seventy works by the couple Palmira Puig and Marcel Giró, which we will find in Saudades de São Paulo, the latest proposal from the Palau Solterra at the Fundació Vila Casas.

The same camera (often a Hasselblad), but used with two different optics. This would be a way of explaining the work of the tandem formed by Palmira Puig Giró and Marcel Giró. Saudades de São Paulo, curated by Rocío Santa Cruz and directed by Glòria Bosch, is one of those exhibitions that attracts magnetic force. The ones you will find here are honest and human photographs, with a sensitive and personal treatment of reality, and at the same time with a respect for formidable discipline.

Saudades de São Paulo is a tribute to the life and artistic career of two major figures in the history of Catalan photography, and offers the opportunity to see a living collection that is constantly growing and incorporating new elements. It contains genuine pieces that are reminiscent of photographic trends such as German or Japanese photographic subjectivism. It is "an abstract photography, with its own language", says the curator.

During the first half of the 1950s, the leading couple settled in São Paulo, where they opened a photographic studio: the Estúdio Giró, which would soon become one of the most important studios in a country in the making. A Brazil blossomed with dreams, hopes and a splendid future, and where the language of Marcel Giró and Palmira Puig fitted in perfectly. Over the years, their work will be consolidated, and in fact will coincide with the rediscovery of Modern Photography (experimental, wild and conceptual). The couple's activity will also be introduced in the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB), a visual movement that will defend photography as an artistic and autonomous expression that works with the exploration of geometry, framing, focus and the treatment of light and shadow.
The exhibition is the result of comings and goings, and above all of the celerity of Toni Ricart Giró (nephew of the two artists). Ricart Giró, moved by an impulse of artistic justice, has been many years carrying out an immeasurable task of investigation, filtering and discovery: "Sometimes it is difficult to know which photo is of one or the other". "At first, I thought that Palmira's creation was rather anecdotal, but through the recovery I have realized that it is more prolific than we had first believed".

It would be unfair to compare this couple with Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Unlike the previous case, Pamira Puig Giró was not in the shade or in the background. It may seem so, because her discreet and modest character made Marcel's work, at first, more visible. Both photographed with a similar criterion, the fruit of a relationship that went beyond the artistic, professional and sentimental connection.
The exhibition is also a kind of vindication of Palmira Puig's production. In spite of the sincere node of personal trust that the couple had, while Marcel was preparing the stage a little, Palmira spontaneously photographed the scene.

The aim of all this effort and time spent, despite everything, is worthwhile, since it aims to put in their place photographers who are not sufficiently valued in Catalonia, but who are, on the other hand, very much remembered in the Brazilian city where they are still recognised today. Moreover, their pieces are part of collections of institutions such as the MACBA, the Metropolitan, the MoMA or the MASP of São Paulo.

Agus Izquierdo. Núvol