Alberto García Alix

Existential Photography

Spain in the 1980s: a country in upheaval. Francisco Franco died in 1975 – the dictatorship had finally ended after 39 years. The country and its people started to enjoy new liberties and one of these people was Alberto García Alix, with his camera as his constant companion. “I never wanted to become a photographer,” he says in retrospect. But in fact, he has been taking photos of his surroundings since 1976. His father wanted him to study law, but Alberto García Alix refused and left home at the age of 20. In Spain back then it was a minor revolution against the patriarchy.

Left to his own devices he started a new life. A life full of liberties – and dark chapters. With his camera always at the ready, he photographed those around him: people on the street, motorcyclists, porno stars, drug addicts – and he was one of them for decades. “Back then, only the elite had drugs and we felt so privileged.” Alberto García Alix photographed these privileged few, many of whom have long since been dead. “Why am I still alive? Ask God!” One reason is certainly his photography which has provided him with a living since the mid-1980s. Today, Alberto García Alix is still mainly interested in people who lead excessive lives – people like himself. His passion and purpose in life is to photograph them – and it is also an inner compulsion.

“I want to give people dignity when I photograph them. The images document my love of the particular person,” he says. For Alberto García Alix, each shot reveals an intimate momentary encounter. He considers these “magical moments” the most beautiful in life. “I photograph the people frontally, usually they stare out at you – what is important is the dialogue between the person in the picture and the viewer.” It is not only photography that is of almost compulsive importance for Alberto García Alix, but also the act of developing the pictures. Then he is alone in his small darkroom with the person whose image gradually develops on the paper.

Looking back, would he have done anything different in life? “That question is not important – I have lived the way I lived.” Photography has given him a lot, and he has traveled far, meeting many people. “There were ups and downs in my life, but one thing is for sure – I am privileged, I am a born survivor.”

Biographical information

1956

born in Leon, Spain

1999

Spanish National Photography Award

2003

Bartolomé Ross Award, PHotoEspaña 2003

lives in Madrid