Gaspar Gasparian (1899 - 1966) is an unusual case in Brazilian photography. His passion for photography came to pass when he, in 1942, started out formally in the newly created Foto Clube Bandeirante, which founded in 1939, gathered a group of enthusiasts and self-employed professionals in the city of Sao Paulo and was partly responsible for introducing into Brazilian photography a modern esthetics which started in 1940. Later known as Escola Paulista, the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante broadened the imagery spectrum of Gaspar Gasparian, who with enthusiasm and dedication built his own way within a realm that aimed at looking and enlarging the idea of photography as a cultural manifestation.
In over 20 years of intense photographic activity it is possible to detect in his trajectory some differentiated and overlapping moments, clearly defining his option for image. Initially he explored the possibility of pictorialist photography, creating in his impeccable studio, images of shade and light, textures and compositions facing elaborate scenes of still life. Further on he ventured into urban photography, electing Sao Paulo as scenery for that production. In his international trips the traveling photographer was also born, taking advantage of the chance to produce elegant compositions and regardless of the country he visited, it is evident that his image repertoire possessed its own characteristic. Finally, he ventured into modern photography, even getting to abstract moments.
His fine-tuned and selective sensitivity has left us a legacy with hundreds of copies and negatives, mid-sized, and now organized into the Gaspar Gasparian Archives, organized by Gaspar Gasparian Filho, aiming at preserving this photographic memory and promoting the images taken in the golden period of photo-clubs in Brazil. In 1950, with some colleagues of the Bandeirantes, he creates the Group of Six in order to deepen discussions of technique and photographic language, reaching for a decoupling from established parameters dictated by the photo-club movement.
The initiative of promoting exhibitions, books and catalogues besides guaranteeing the presence of some works at few and selected collections, were actions which consolidated Gaspar Gasparians's name in the cultural production of Brazilian photography. In the current year, 2011, the making of a portfolio with selected 25 pictures and limited edition, signals a new path, aiming at broadening the presence of his photography within private and institutional collections. The person in charge of producing the copies is Valdir Cruz, a photographer (helped by Sabrina Pestana), whose experience as a printer is unrivalled, as among his clients are Horst P. Horst, George Stice and a portfolio production of master Edward Steichen, 25 five years ago.
The portfolio was printed on Japanese Oriental paper, Seagull VC (variable contrast), FB II fiber base with warmtone; a paper developed to accept the shades of selenium, thus guaranteeing picture quality and durability more easily than most. The choice of that paper was made due to varied reasons, among others allowing the finer reading of shadier areas and having a warm hue that closely resembles the photos of that time. The target of this issue is to make the similarity the strongest possible so that the atmosphere of that time can be captured and resemble the loyalest possible the copies still in existence, absolute references in contemporary photography.
The edition of this portfolio brings photographs with a pictorialist influence, some urban scenes of the city of Sao Paulo, some cuts and graphemes done over trips in Brazil and abroad, elegant compositions, constructions made in the studio as still lives and abstract ones. An apparently eclectic repertoire which highlights all the versatility of Gaspar Gasparian developed throughout his trajectory. In essence, a real amateur photographer, who after his long work-hours as a successful entrepreneur, still found the time to enthusiastically dedicate himself to photography.
The production of the final image is almost always a fragment cut out of a broader negative that brings other information not valued by the photographer. Another important factor is that almost always the scene is photographed more than once and with little variations in the framing, so that this final choice can be determined among various options. To notice that means to acknowledge his work procedure, valuing fragments left on purpose by the artist, so that maybe in the future analyses and reading of the image can be made viable.
It is typical of the photo club generation to not erase the clues to the creation process, as there was a weekly, intense discussion over techniques used and aesthetical variations, it was necessary to create a kind of memorial when retrieval was needed. And Gasparian who used a series of procedures to constantly perfect his work, has left enough data so we could understand his work and his choices. And thanks to that we can nowadays repeat the cuts and approximate the shades and textures of his photographs.
Counting on an educated view on the photography being done at his time, Gasparian had the subtle capacity of observing daily life and as if by a stroke of magic he was able to bond with the syntax of photo club modernity. His pictures have composition strength through perspectives and diagonals not always noticeable, but also through repetitive shapes creating motion and rhythm. And it is exactly that which gives his work unique characteristics synched with the revolutionary aesthetics of that time.
Brazil has no tradition in the areas of preservation and memory. Preservation of artistic production in the city of Sao Paulo has grown enormously over the past decades, but it is also precarious. Luckily, Gaspar Gasparians's photographs were preserved by his youngest son in a first moment as a family memory rescued as an intense and affectionate memento, but on second thought as a reorganization of collective memory prevailing the photographic aesthetics of the cultural movement generated by Clube Bandeirante.
The Gaspar Gasparian Archives allow though the publication of this portfolio, the possibility of widening the scope of promotion of a photographic body of work that can now occupy significant space in public and private collections.
A totally differentiated initiative that enables the proper valuing of sophisticated work as far as constructivism goes, and at the same time original in its figurative complexity.
Rubens Fernades Junior is a researcher and critic of photography
"Gaspar Gasparian, when exploring the plastic aspects of the city landscape, was one of those pioneers who introduced and consolidated the modern photograph in Brazil. The clipping of the constructions, the posts, the stones of the cobbled streets and any other objects he found during his wandering through the city, were transfigured under his look by the simple incidence of the natural light. Gasparian devoted himself to one of the most valued and peculiar aspects of the photograph: creating while walking, letting himself be only taken by the intuition. (Cristiano Mascaro, photographer)
"Gaspar Gasparian is an admirable exponent of the Pictorialism late entrance in Brazil, which had already been depleted as a style by either the European vanguards or the North American photograph. The Pictorialism was an aesthetic reply to the principle of Baudelaire, when the poet and critic refers to an absence of the authorial subjectivity in the photograph. Beyond Pictorialism and as a style of a strong presence in photo clubism, what is surprising in Gaspar Gasparian's photographs is the influence of the modern photograph in unusual angles and geometric constructions with light and shades in urban environment and, here we can find one of the most updated dialogue aspects with the vanguards aesthetic of the time"(Fernando de Tacca, photographer and professor at the Department of Multimedia, Media and Communication of the Institute of Art of Unicamp - University of Campinas).
"He was a great friend, who photographed the big city. A person, whose kindness and generosity were completely unusual in a photo club. (Thomaz Farkas, photographer, movie maker, cinematographer and entrepreneur).
"We were colleagues in the photo club and years later we found out our families have been friends for a long time. We grew up together in the same street of Brás (a São Paulo district). I've became the official photographer of Gasparian's family. A kind and friendly person" (German Lorca, photographer)