Fundacion MAPFRE opens Jorge Ribalta's first retrospective

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Fundacion MAPFRE opens Jorge Ribalta's first retrospective
Jorge Ribalta. From the series “Sur l' herbe,” 2005–2008. Courtesy of the artist. © Jorge Ribalta, VEGAP 2022.

MADRID.- Fundación MAPFRE is presenting Jorge Ribalta. It’s All True: Fictions and Documents 1987–2020. This exhibition, Jorge Ribalta’s first retrospective, traces the evolution from the illusionistic staged photographs he began taking in 1987 to the "documentary photography" he embraced in 2005 and continues practising today.

In 1941, Orson Welles conceived It’s All True as blend of documentary and docufiction, a feature film comprising three different segments that told three stories about Latin America. Cancelled halfway through production, the documentary has been the subject of numerous debates and was recovered by Richard Wilson in the 1993 feature It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles. This documentary, a genuine fieldwork exercise about a narrative, is closely related to Ribalta’s working method and to the conception of the exhibition now being presented at Fundación MAPFRE: the show offers a chronological survey of the artist’s entire career, simultaneously revealing and concealing aspects of a history that is often "fabricated", a construct typical of the language of photography and, in fact, of every artistic medium.

Ribalta’s images—mainly shot in black and white on analogue film—are the product of rigorous and nuanced observation. In his work, the artist roams across the changing landscapes of our late capitalist era. Ribalta’s oeuvre is both a record and a somewhat humorous critique of the culture and cultural artefacts with which we live, a cross-cutting commentary on art, politics, economics, labour and history.

The exhibition includes 14 series created between the late 1980s and 2020, as well as four projections and documentary material that offer a sweeping overview of Ribalta’s work.

Jorge Ribalta (Barcelona, 1963) had his first exhibition at the Metrònom gallery in Barcelona in 1988, during the Primavera Fotográfica (Photographic Spring) festival. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he spent several periods in the United States, primarily in New York and Chicago, and in 1994 he had his first show at the Zabriskie Gallery, coinciding with his participation in New Photography 10, the influential annual showcase of up-and-coming international artists organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

In his facet as a cultural manager, he worked as director of the Public Programmes Department at the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) from 1999 to 2009, and he edited several seminal photography books, including La fotografía en el pensamiento artístico contemporáneo (1997) and El movimiento de la fotografía obrera, 1926–1939 (2011). Ribalta has also been a frequent contributor to the daily La Vanguardia, served as an expert adviser on the photography collection of the Gustavo Gili publishing house, and regularly publishes articles and essays in various media. His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, and he has had solo shows in cities like Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Paris, Salamanca and Cáceres.

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