Spanish photojournalist Jordi Socías isn’t a public figure in the United States, but he’s a superstar in Spain.
After the Jan. 16 opening of Instituto Cervantes’ exhibit “Maremágnum” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the institute’s coordinator Milly Castañeda-Ledwith hopes that Socías receives the attention he deserves.
“He’s an icon in Spain,” she said. “This exhibit of his photographs has been shown in New York and Chicago. We’ll be displaying it in Albuquerque through the middle of April.”
“Maremágnum” features 70 images of four decades’ worth of work by the 67-year-old, self-taught photographer who was born in Barcelona and now lives in Madrid. He co-founded the Agencia Popular Informativa, which distributed news that the Franco regime censored. He helped create several magazines, including Cinemanía and El Europeo, and has been the editor and photographer for many other publications. He eventually turned to self-publication to pair text with his images.
“Portraits are his specialty,” Castañeda-Ledwith explained. “More than half of the exhibit contains portraits. He is able to get people in unbelievably interesting positions. There are three portraits of actress Penélope Cruz. One of them was taken long before she became famous. Jordi is interested in who people really are and what their personalities are all about.”
Among Socías’ portraits are images of Salvador Dalí, Jorge Luis Borges, Graham Greene, Pedro Almodóvar and Francis Ford Coppola.
Socías also has captured powerful images of Spain. He has photos of soldiers holding rifles with their faces reflecting panic and fear. He has focused his lens on everyday people eating at cafes and enjoying the company of friends and family.
“He’s done a little bit of everything,” said Castañeda-Ledwith. “While the majority of his work is about Spain, he also has pictures of Cuba and other parts of Europe. His interest has always been what’s going on in society at the time.”
Socías assumed the role of curator for the exhibit, which includes framed and unframed photographs of different sizes. Many of them are 50 inches by 20 inches.
At the opening reception Socías will talk about his work with help from a translator. There will be refreshments, including wine and tapas, and Spanish guitar music playing in the background.
Instituto Cervantes, which was founded by the Spanish government in 1991 to promote the Spanish language and culture, has more than 70 centers worldwide. The Instituto Cervantes of Albuquerque offers a variety of Spanish courses for individuals and groups and organizes cultural events throughout the year.