Dípticos: The Structure of the Image, the Structure of Expression

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Joan Fontcuberta

The Gestalt psychologists discovered that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. This principle has been applied both to perception in the visual fields and to the reading of texts of all kinds. Not least in the plastic arts it has proven to be a resource that is rich in possibilities.

Among the most noteworthy examples are without a doubt the works of Rafael Navarro entitled Dípticos. A diptych is the juxtaposition of two images, in this case two photographs whose descriptive and evocative power suggest new meanings when they are placed side by side.

But having accepted this binary combination as a rule of the game is just the start; this is where the real creativity begins. Because throughout the various pair-offs a special dialectic emerges based on a system of oppositions that is as clear as it is effective. Presence versus absence, materialism versus spirituality, life versus death, mutability versus stillness, light versus darkness, warmth versus heat. These oppositions have become a commonplace of the diptych's ability to combine concepts.

But behind this thread of thought, behind even the most obvious symbols that feature in Rafael Navarro’s works, what should seize our attention most is poetic content that they generate. And this cannot be put into words. One has to discover it in the sensuality of the details and in the qualities of range, in the contrasts of lines and tones, in the magic of the framing, etc. for which the impact produced by the confrontation of the two images is only a sounding board.

What matters is that each diptych is the embodiment of a series of feelings. We recognize mystery, solitude, melancholy, anger, calm, humor, angst and many others, in this journey into the photographer’s most intimate self.

Thus, Rafael Navarro’s diptychs not only invite us to reflect on the visual expression, but also to share deeply felt internal experiences.