In his new body of work, José Picayo explores the mystery of human perception and interaction. This exhibit is comprised of haunting paired portraits, one photograph of the back of a model’s head and another of the front. It’s human nature to see an incomplete image and mentally complete it, jumping to calculated assumptions based on previous experience. Picayo relates these photographs to his own experience walking in the streets of the city, imagining the front of the strangers he walks behind.
The paired photos are displayed across the room from one another, which establishes the true dichotomy of the exhibit. The textures, front versus back, are quite contrasting. This demonstrates the divide between the experiences of expectation and reality, by allowing the viewer to imagine the front side of the model and then confronting them with the honest reality.
Picayo’s latest exhibit toys with this concept of human expectation versus reality and poses many difficult questions. In working with models, he also delves into the definition of beauty and what is, overall, considered beautiful. The photos are both shot and positioned at eye level, giving the viewer the experience of seeing right into their eyes.
To evoke a timeless feel, straying from the modern, Picayo uses 8x10 Polaroid film, which is especially rare and distinct in this era of photography. His technique emphasizes the importance of these specific captured moments. The subject is completely temporary, whereas it exists only for the duration of the photograph. The ephemerality of Picayo’s work enhances the strangeness of his societal observation. Moreover, the photos are printed larger than life-sized in order to make the viewer experience as authentic as his own.