Carlos Pérez Siquier, died at the age of ninety, a fundamental piece of the history of the modern spanish photography. For his personal work, within which his extraordinary visions of his native Almería shine, but also for his pioneering action in AFAL.
Pérez Siquier has been the greatest singer, with his camera, of his native land, as rough as it is beautiful. From the mid-fifties onwards, he recorded the day-to-day life of the famous Chanca neighborhood. First in black and white, so suitable to account for the contrast between lime, and the black of women’s clothing, or of umbrellas, or of cats. Then, in a wonderful ‘ektachrome’,
which makes him a Spanish pioneer of color, along with his friend from Gijón Gerardo Vielba. Color that would serve him later to tell the almost pop world of the beaches, and for a photobook of ‘trainscapes’ from the Almería-Seville train.
All said naturally, with respect for the truth, for those portrayed, for the life that passes, as women pass with their jugs, the seagull, the wardrobe in the move, the brush on the lime, the Indalian clouds on the church Chiriquiana on the way to Cabo de Gata, the passage on the Easter poster in 1970, the filming of Western movies in Tabernas …
Almeria in the shutter
AFAL, the Almeriense Photographic Group, a prodigious adventure, begun in 1950 and in an official context, but then overflowed. His modest newsletter, simply titled AFAL, came out between 1956 and 1963. Historic was his careful ‘Yearbook of Spanish photography’, from 1958. The two pillars of the group were the photographer who just left us, who for several decades was also a bank employee, and Jose Maria Artero, writer (one of his books, shared with Salvador Jiménez, deals with Ramón Gómez de la Serna) and occasionally also a camera artist.
They involved, among many others, Català-Roca, Colom, Cualladó, Paco Gómez, the aforementioned Juanes, Masats, Maspons, Miserachs, Ontañón, Nuño, Pomés, Rubio Camín (plastic artist and also camera artist), Carlos Saura, Schommer, Terré, Ubiña, Vielba… Also, foreign colleagues (Boubat, Giacomelli, Sougez, Otto Steinert…), writers, filmmakers, architects, cartoonists like Ballesta or like Chumy Chúmez, the latter also a good photographer… Almería is today, thanks to Pérez Siquier and AFAL, and then thanks to Manuel Falces and CAF, the capital of our photography. And he also has, recently, a one-man museum in Olula del Río, a dream shared with Teresa, his wife.
In 1966 Pérez Siquier published an ‘Almería’ in the popular Everest guide collection, in others of which he collaborated. For the same publisher, he took care of, again with Artero, five successive photographic yearbooks, as he collaborated in publications of the Ministry of Information and Tourism. In 2003 he obtained the
National Photography Award. The following year he released a volume on the Maestranza de Sevilla. During the last two decades, he greatly enjoyed seeing how both his work and AFAL were rediscovered, both thanks to retrospectives, the first of which was that of La Caixa, in 1997, and to group exhibitions.
I remember him at the Reina Sofía, with Juan Goytisolo, presenting the reissue, with his black and white photos, of ‘La Chanca’. I remember him in Roquetas de Mar, happy that his portraits of Jesus of Perceval and other painters, but also that the Percevalian clichés were finally caught up in another parallel exhibition at the lighthouse. I remember it, at the Reina, again, when the AFAL show. I remember him, finally, in March, at CAF, in ‘Galería de espejos’, greeting the new Andalusian photographers. That day he told us the secret: a gin and tonic in the afternoons, and an Inés Rosales cake …
Sad, very sad are his countrymen, and his colleagues, and his friends the poets, summoned by Antonio Lafarque to gloss, in two already essential photobooks (‘Al fin y al cabo’ in 2009, and ‘Guiños’, in 2017), this work that shines, and that remains and lasts.