Every weekend for more than two years, Joan Colom explored the “bas-fonds” of Barcelona
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I discovered the Barrio Chino in 1958, I understood that it was my world. I was fascinated by its diversity and its social richness…I literally got sucked in by the human quality of these characters….
Every weekend for more than two years, Joan Colom explored the “bas-fonds” of Barcelona, the Raval neighbourhood that is known today as the “Barrio Chino”. Concerned with remaining discreet and breaking with the aesthetic traditions of his elders, he began by photographing without aiming the camera. Only whilst printing would he decide on the precise frame for each image. He saw himself as an impassioned witness of a social theatre and his work as a search for authentic “images that touch me.”
Today, the “imaginaire” of urban life of the Barrio Chino is rooted in Colom’s images. His work was praised early on by personalities such as Ramon Massats and Joseph Maria Casademont who wrote in 1961: “with Joan Colom, we are entering a new phase of our history of photography.” In these images the modernist avantgarde of the fifties is interwined with the “dark” and pessimistic tradition of Spain during the Franco era.