Luis González Palma
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Life and work
Born in 1957, Palma grew up in Guatemala City. He studied architecture and cinematography at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and then turned to photography. He has presented his work from 1989 in more than 58 exhibitions in America and Europe.
He is of mixed Native or “mestizo” background, and his photography focuses on the plight of the indigenous Mayas and the Mestizo people of Guatemala. His photographs are often intended to inspire psychological and culture issues in the viewer, by incorporating distant gazes and mystical costumes that objectify and explain the pain these people, who are a minority in Guatemala, have gone through since before, during and after the genocide of their race.
Symbolism is very important in Palma’s work: he uses symbols to convey his ideas. Palma also uses sepia tints in his earlier photographs, and tends to leave the whites of the eyes not tinted, in order to intensify the subject’s gaze. Critics say this helps bring out the issues that the artist is trying to explain or explore. Another strong part of his photography is that he tends to collage his photographs, layering on top of his subjects with important words or symbols.
Palma declares that he tries "to portray the soul of a people" in his photographs, but others disagree with him, and claim that he exploits his subjects.