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"At least since Plato's Allegory of the Cave, we have seen shadows as a metaphor for the illusory and evil aspects of life, of what we must eradicate in order to illuminate the truth and inherent goodness of existence. And yet, we forget that darkness evidences light, palpable evidence without which we would not be able to appreciate or even notice the brightness itself."


In our lives today, the ideal of beauty is increasingly presented as perfection. Symmetry and colour balance. Nowhere is this more evident than on social media, where the use of image enhancement software is ubiquitous. Before sharing an image or a moment, it must first be perfect. There is no room for flaw.


In Japanese tradition though, imperfection is an important part of beauty. It is something to be celebrated, not hidden. 


This fact in present in many aspects of Japanese aesthetics, such as Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by reassembling broken areas with lacquer dusted or mixed with gold dust. As a philosophy, Kintsugi treats breaks and repairs as part of an object's history, rather than something to be disguised.


Juan Carlos Ortiz Mono Awards Certificate_1549 copy 2.jpg

Something similar is found in the architectural design of Japanese domestic dwellings, where the use of small windows controls the existence of interior natural light. The philosophy is that to allow the presence of darkness, or shadow, next to the light makes the envoronment more harmonious, more perfect. A reminder of the way Japanese ancestors lived hundreds of years ago in dark dwellings surrounded by shadows, sheltered from the harsh Japanese sun.


With "In Praise of Shadows" I have tried to reflect this concept of the contrast between light and shadow and the importance of alllowing imperfection to play a part in achieving perfect beauty.


"A faint golden ray, cast into the surrounding darkness, like the bright line of the horizon at sunset... I don't think gold shows its sad beauty more splendidly elsewhere."


Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows, 1933

This body of work won a  Highly Commended Award  in the Places category at the  The Mono Awards 2022 awarded by SanDisk Professional, Australian Photography Magazine and Capture Magazine.

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