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Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Visceral Visionaries: Gustavo Lopez Mañas
Today I have a very special edition of Visceral Visionaries for you. I'm taking to visionary Spanish horror photographer Gustavo Lopez Mañas, whose work has appeared in the worlds of music, fashion, advertising and the movies. Yet despite the thriving mainstream career of this native of the gorgeous city of Granada (they didn't write a song about it for nothing), Mañas has always had a deep, abiding love of the macabre, and has thus always made a place for it in his work.
In fact, his sweetest gig of all has to be that he was an actual on-set photographer during the filming of the 2007 Spanish horror film [REC]. Despite being insanely jealous of this, it was nevertheless a pleasure to discuss it, as well as many other things, with Mr. Mañas...
I understand you were originally influenced by comics, tell me a little about this.
Yes, I started drawing comics books when I was 15, and then worked as an inker on super hero comics. Later, I finally discovered photography, and this gave me the way to express my ideas.
You're a formally trained photographer, what led you to want to explore horror-related themes in some of your work?
I've loved horror movies since I was a child, and I always have been interested on the feelings that they give us. That feeling is the one I also want to provoke.
You created an entire series on the theme of Le Fanu's Carmilla, what was it about that story that inspired you?
Carmilla is a very special story to me. Because it shows us how the relationship between two teenage girls can be as frightening as the fact that Carmilla is a vampire. And of course, it's one of the most important stories about vampires, which inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula.
What is it about vampires that make them such a ripe theme for photography?
Well, vampires are very attractive characters, because they are synonymous with sex and seduction.
You also did some photography on the set of [REC], how did that come about?
I sometimes work for “Filmax”, one of the most important Spanish film production companies. They make many horror movies. I made around 10 horror movies with this company, and [REC] is only one of them.
What do you think made that such a successful horror film?
I think they thought it out so well--they knew how make a movie that people would like. And especially, they knew how to promote the movie. Sometimes it's almost more important to do good promotion than a good movie, if you want to sell it.
Your Hair Museum photography contains horror themes as well, particularly the Bride of Frankenstein... Tell me a bit about this project.
This project was created in 2002 with my friend and hair artist Jesus Martos. He thought it could be great to make a characters gallery, and wanted they it to have a very disturbing look.
Why do you think it is that there are images which can simultaneously be beautiful and frightening?
I think it's because morbid and frightening go together.
Of what work are you the most proud? Both horror and non-horror related.
Carmilla, is the work with which I really showed what appeals to me. Thanks to the help of a lot of friends, that was a fantastic experience for me.
Do you find that your horror-themed works informs your more "mainstream" work in any way?
I enjoy very much doing both, but for me, the mainstream work is just to pay the bills. All artists have personal and mainstream works.
What future projects can my readers look forward to from you?
Very soon, I´m going to finish a video clip that we made for [NYC rock band] Anthony and the Johnsons featuring performance artist Johanna Constantine, which is really special.
* Thanks to Stu of Buy Zombie for putting me in contact with Gustavo.