Flor Garduño, Ocotal II, México, 1987
Flor Garduño: In Dreams. Selected Works (1982-2022)
February 15–20, 2024
SOL LDN
London, UK

SOL LDN is pleased to announce that a new exhibition of photographs by Flor Garduño, will open in Notting Hill in February 2024. One of México’s leading photographers, this will be Garduño’s first UK exhibition in 30 years and her first solo presentation in London. Inspired by the people, landscape, literature and art of her native México, Garduño’s photography explores themes of mythology, spirituality and the female body. This exhibition highlights 20 works made between 1982-2022, revealing symmetries across four decades of Garduño’s work. Her genre-fusing practice merges a surreal style of portraiture and still-life with lyrical forms of landscape and documentary photography. Intentionally ambiguous, Garduño’s work is layered with signs and symbols, combining the spiritual and secular within each frame.

On her first professional assignment for the department of Public Education, Garduño was asked to photograph rural communities in remote villages across México for primary school textbooks. This project inspired her best-known series, Witnesses of Time (1992), where she travelled through México, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. The exhibition includes several of Garduño’s most famous images from this series, namely Taita Marcos, Ecuador (1988), Canasta de Luz, Guatemala (1989) and Mujer Que Sueña, México (1991). Without being anthropological in her focus, Garduño celebrates the imaginative power of native cultures in South and Central America: their rituals, folklore, and daily life. Through her distinctive use of dark and light, Garduño’s photographs emphasise the lyrical and poetic above the social and political, making visible the emotional character of indigenous rituals within the western tradition.

A recurring theme in Garduño’s work is the liminal space where human and animal, human and vegetal combine. Such hybrids are common to many cultures and have long been a way to represent dreams, fortune, gods and the order of the cosmos. Garduño references pre-Columbian rituals and mythology, where humans are linked to an ‘animal soul’ at birth and where certain creatures are revered. In her later series, Inner Light (2002), Garduño enhances the powers of her female subjects with the strengths of various flora and fauna. In Hoja Elegante (1998) and Vestido Eterno (1999), Garduño adorns her nude subjects with roses and giant leaves. In Pavoreal (1999), two bare ankles emerge from underneath a majestic peacock. Like many of her female contemporaries, Garduño turns to nonrealist representations of the human body to explore cultural ideas of ‘the female form’, as well as individual relationships between women’s identities and bodies. These theatrical compositions recall both the Surrealist attempt to render the oneiric, and the Latin American influence of Magical Realism. Combining the sensual nature of femininity with a touch of the uncanny, Garduño manifests a new feminine imagery that examines the measure, magic and connotative power of the female body.