The Palau de la Virreina, with its eighteenth century baroque edifice, is itself a spectacular building which Bonillas has manipulated artfully, his perception of space impeccable. The viewer strolls into one minimalist room, confronted by intimidating blank walls disclosing the sombre account of his grandfather’s unfulfilled youthful dreams. Bonillas brutally exposes his forebear’s idealistic wish to emulate John Wayne by framing each individual page of a tormented 74 page typewritten diary. The diary documents the pain of a young man who discovers that the task of uprooting from
The hint of bitterness in the life of J. R Plaza had already been evinced by the gruesome dark holes in some of the earlier family photographs. Betrayed by a friend – we are not given a clue as to what form this betrayal takes but the affect it had on Plaza is clear - the absence of this friend was such that it led him to take the time to cover the estranged friend in black marker in each and every photo in which he appeared. Such holes have the effect of eroding the photograph’s inner joy, a successful attempt alter time that had previously been distilled which leaves the viewer rather disconcerted.
Life is not lived without these emotions at one time or another, but the humanity would not be complete without joy. We leave the frustrated dreams and broken friendships behind to be confronted with the warmth and glory of a horde of pictures of familial love. The scale of colour and light rising up, Bonillas uses three of the foot high walls, gives a sense of disorientation. It could be a Cathedral were it not for the bright white light perfectly contrasting the building’s antiquity with the present day – the pictures represent the bridge in between the two, as there is only so much bright lights can do to disguise their age.
Though these displays ostensibly deal with their protagonist, it is obvious that Bonillas’ key theme is in fact that of biography - not his grandfather, but how his grandfather chooses to portray himself. In essence this exhibition is the biography of a photographic autobiography, a modern take on the depiction of ones life, forsaking text for the photograph - reflecting today’s eminence of images as the primary means of communication.
Palau de la Virreina
La Rambla, 99
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 12 noon to 8pm. Until 6th May.