Miguel Rio Branco
Miguel Rio Branco (Las Palmas, 1946)
Border crossing, deserted places, new charts
Raised in a family of diplomats, Rio Branco’s way of inhabiting the world has always been shaped by an organic movement between borders and places. He inhabits his art in the same way. At once inside and outside disciplines, the act of crossing allows him to create an aesthetic language that renders all borders between message and medium obsolete. His visual compositions hide messages, like verses buried in the entrails of the image. Under the influence of photojournalism and social critique, Rio Branco could be defined as a sort of poetical documentalist. Although his work records reality, it is never satisfied with providing easy answers or immediate translations. Rio Branco strips language of all literality and builds new visual grammars.
Visceral aesthetics in the aftermath of pictorialism
Rio Branco does not shy away from the body, rather he dives into visceral tones. His photography and cinema bear the influence of his pictorial training, which imbues his style with a particular materiality. Displacement, loss and grief are key themes in Rio Branco’s oeuvre. Pain and sexuality are sublimed in his use of saturation and contrast. All of these elements are conjugated under a prevalent sign of ambivalence, especially in his photographs: opposing courses of action confront each other, caught in a vicious struggle over the ownership of the image. Turned into a sort of visual trench, the image becomes a site of excess, heavy with meaning. Rio Branco does not intend to mirror that which already is, but rather he creates new possibilities of existence, new gazes, new truths.
Having received international recognition, his work has been exhibited worldwide and has received numerous awards. It has been included in both public and private collections in institutions such as Museu de Arte Moderna do Río de Janeiro; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Photographic Arts of San Diego; and Metropolitan Museum of New York.