Emilio Pemjean

The focus of a research that goes back to the etymological roots of the word,  Palimpsestos by Emilio Pemjean are the result of a structured process exploring the complexity of the picture’s construction.

Emilio Pemjean
Photography, says John Szarkowski, is achieved by selectively fragmenting reality, unlike painting which is founded on synthesis.
Emilio Pemjean, <i>Palimpsesto</i>
Opening: Emilio Pemjean, view of the exhibition "Palimpseste", Colegio de Espana, Paris. Photo Giaime Meloni. Above: Emilio Pemjean, Palimpsesto
Emilio Pemjean’s photographic actions configure as representative gestures that combine the essentiality of painting with the selective photographic process in an attempt to produce a poetic narration of the void. The Palimpsestos , the focus of theoretical and practical research that goes back to the etymological roots of the word, are the result of a structured process exploring the complexity of the picture’s construction. The photographs are taken after painstakingly constructing architectural models of places now lost, the sign of which survives only in traces reproduced in Masters’ paintings, from Velásquez to Caspar Friederich to mention but two.
Emilio Pemjean, <i>Palimpsesto</i>
Emilio Pemjean, Palimpsesto
The spartan space reconstructed by Pemjean lacks any direct clues to the history of these places which, at first glance, look like anonymous rooms from everyday life. The pictures are accompanied only by a progressive number, plus general information stating the place and the dates of construction and destruction. Although the observer’s visual attention focuses entirely on the spatial quality of the small, private spaces, the desire to reconstruct the mnemonic experience prompts their arbitrary reconstruction – the 2D image unleashes the imagination.
Emilio Pemjean, <i>Palimpsesto</i>
Emilio Pemjean, Palimpsesto
This interpretation of the history of architecture passing via paintings reproduces an imaginary memory of the places, as well as materially reconstructing their spatial presence. The Spanish artist beings his work by acquiring the information required to reconstruct the space. Unlike painting in which the light is always unreal, Pemjean reproduces architecture with a skilful play of carefully gauged light, in keeping with the diverse characteristics of the places. The light of Delft is not the same as the light of Arles.
Emilio Pemjean, <i>Palimpsesto</i>
Emilio Pemjean, Palimpsesto

Arranged in a small room of the Colegio de España, the exhibition highlights the need to contemplate the Palimpsestos in tiny spaces. The exhibition design, presented as part of the “Mois de la Photo Off” in Paris, creates a constant dialogue between the architectural models – devised as magic boxes to be looked through like a window – and the pictures taken of them. The play of scale between model and the picture reproducing it seems a mise en abîme that takes us back to the fundamental question of photographic representation: what is its relationship with the reality it represents and interprets?

On this, we should quote Gio Ponti who, in this magazine, saw photography as the opportunity to gain “another view, an abstract, mediated and composed view,” basically an “independent and autonomous” view.

Emilio Pemjean, view of the exhibition "Palimpseste", Colegio de Espana, Paris
Emilio Pemjean, view of the exhibition "Palimpseste", Colegio de Espana, Paris. Photo Giaime Meloni
Pemjean’s work offers the chance to gain another view, one that goes beyond the documentary value of photography as merely an accurate reproduction of reality to become a tool for the critical analysis of space. The pictures are the result of a modus operandi peculiar to the rigour of architecture and, in this way, cannot be simply classed within a photographic genre that produces a seemingly neutral portrayal of a constructed object but, rather, raises questions crucial to the development of the architectural project. 
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Emilio Pemjean, <i>Palimpsesto</i>
Emilio Pemjean, Palimpsesto

until 30 November 2014
Emilio Pemjean : Palimpseste
Colegio de España, Paris

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