Armando Salas Portugal “BARRAGÁN”

Date: Jan 27 – Feb 24, 2024
Location: Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film

Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film is pleased to present “BARRAGÁN,” a solo exhibition of works by Armando Salas Portugal from January 27 to February 24, 2024. This will be his second presentation with the gallery since 2017 and will feature 16 photographs that capture the works of Mexican architect Luis Barragán.

Born the youngest of three energetic brothers, Armando Salas Portugal was always enthralled by the natural beauty of his native Mexico from an early age. At the age of 18, he took up his brother’s camera and began documenting his travels across the country. In 1941, his work appeared for the first time in “La Montaña,” a magazine published by the Club de Exploraciones de México, an association of environmental enthusiasts. Occasionally taking risks, he ventured into uncharted areas by canoe or small plane, photographing active volcanoes, coastal regions, deserts, and the legacies of Mayan civilization buried deep within the jungle. He received high acclaim early in his career as a photographer, most notably for winning the top prize in the National Competition of Mexican Landscape, and held numerous solo exhibitions in institutions both in Mexico and abroad.

Having studied engineering at the Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in Guadalajara, Luis Barragán spent time traveling around Europe, Morocco, and New York where he was exposed to the local architecture and the Modernistic movement, before returning to Mexico City to start working on various small-scale residential projects. Among these are the Ortega House (1940–1942), his first own residence in which Barragán also designed the garden, and his most notable work the Barragán House (1947), which was added to the World Heritage List in 2004. Barragán also worked on urban planning in El Pedregal de San Ángel, located in the southwestern area of Mexico City. Part of this project was the two houses on Avenida de las Fuentes, which he collaborated with German-Mexican architect Max Cetto.

The interaction between Salas Portugal and Barragán began in 1944 when Salas Portugal exhibited the photographs of El Pedregal in his solo exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Since then, Salas Portugal and Barragán have continued their friendship for over 40 years, and much of the architecture by the latter has been photographed by the former. The experimental characteristics in the architecture of Barragán, who integrated Modernism with the natural environment nurtured by the soil of Mexico, can be seen in Salas Portugal’s photographs: spatial design that allows light to stream in, the incorporation of water such as pools and fountains, and brightly colored walls unique to the region. Salas Portugal’s images have not only served to increase international recognition of Barragán’s architecture but also with his exceptional eye, he responded to the three-dimensional architectural space and created a new visual experience through the medium of photography.

Armando Salas Portugal was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1916 (he passed in 1995). He moved to the United States in 1932 and studied science at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1935 to 1938. Salas Portugal’s major solo exhibitions include “Paisaje Mexicano”, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (1944–46); “Paisaje Chiapaneco”, Circulo de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (1949); and “Luis Barragán, Architect”, the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1980). His work has been exhibited at “The Quiet Revolution of Luis Barragán”, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein (2000) which traveled to MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, Museu de Belles Arts de València (both 2001), Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (both 2002).

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