Gabryel and Joaquin explore the darker side of life with their Vanitas infused painting and photography. Gabryel's Vanitas with Instructions for the Living is a proposition not only as a way to live, but also  a Momento Mori, whilst Joaquin's work similarly reminds of us the various stages and cycles in life, birth, death and re-birth. Both works challenge viewers to look inwards, reflecting on lives, or perhaps even past lives.

Gabryel Harrison

All that has dark sounds has duende

Joaquin Pedrero has the soul of a poet. His photographs make this visible. We met years ago in his studio a few streets south of the tracks behind the historic Waldorf Hotel. In retrospect it seems fitting, to have met in an area of Vancouver that at that time would have been considered on the fringes of the city. His studio and the work within it straddled worlds. The physical ones of unruly urban streets composed of nearby scrap yards, industrial detritus and evidence of human souls living close to their own edges, and the ordered, light, composed inner space of the commercial photography studio.

It is in his fine art photography, a window to another world, that I find evidence of a thread that stretches from ancient culture through the wild and gypsy heart of every artist who is listening to the “dark sounds” alluded to in the words of Manuel Torre.

As Lorca says in his essay attempting to describe this mysterious force arising within the soul of an artist; “the true struggle is with the duende”. He says that “the duende loves the edge, the wound, and draws close to places where forms fuse in a yearning beyond visible expression”.

Joaquin’s art hovers between ordinary life and extraordinary realities. His photos unfold like dreams. In them I find quiet restraint and unflinching witness to darkness. I feel his courage to improvise, his commitment to the inner impulse, to staying with the irrational choice provoked from somewhere unknown but trusted. I feel his honouring and reverence of the feminine, the power of the earth and its rhythms, desire, anguish, the erotic and always intimations of our mortality. In Joaquin’s work i am inspired by his desire to make photographs in order to engage in the risk and the necessary struggle to understand his deepest life, the one unseen but beckoning, the one we most yearn for. It is then that the duende enters.

“The duende…where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things.” -- Frederico Garcia Lorca

Gabryel Harrison, Vanitas With Instructions For the Living, 2014

Joaquin Pedrero

The content of my photographs is intimately linked to where I come from. I chose to visually document, through my photographs, the origins of my family, its history and my life as a Mexican living in Mexico City.

The photographic techniques I use are simple in-camera photo comps, composed on the ground glass of a 4 x 5 view camera by combining several images onto one piece of black & white film. They are developed and printed by myself, the prints are done on fiber based paper and selenium, sepia or brown-toned.

Uncomfortable with the common definition that “photography is a faithful method to reproduce reality,” I have taken the road of expressing the private theater of my mind through photographic manipulation. Being the female body the purest expression of nature’s beauty, I have let her be the centre piece, to express feelings that can’t be captured by the human eye, feelings fed by surrealism where dreams and reality meet.

Often the voice of my Father returns saying to always keep that book open: ‘the book of life’. Though with time his life took the form of a departing white dove, symbols of his aesthetic wisdom and passion remained as my devoted teacher.

Joaquin Pedrero, cuando mi Padre cerro su libro, 2014