Art experts have revealed to us that painting is neither the stroke nor the colour: it’s the light. Light, that powerful element that shows us Nature in all her splendour. When we watch how the sun disappears at sunset; or how it is born at dawn, while we are listening to Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor; or when we contemplate the Niagara Falls like a gargantuan avalanche of snow that, overflowing our senses, plunges from a green cliff. So powerful is the influence of light that Impressionists fragmented and fractured it in a myriad of dots, thus deforming and enriching our vision at will.
Let us remember that beauty is not subjective – only our perception of it is. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is beautiful. Period. The paintings of La Tour and Turner are beautiful; as is a symphony by Mahler, or the Poem about Gifts by Borges; as Marilyn Monroe was.
To photograph chess players is to photograph action – contained dynamism.The player is pondering in a priestly pose, his immobility is but superficial; within there is tension, a turbine at full output, conspicuous or not, depending on the photographer’s skill–an artist who becomes a medium between us and his lens.
The photographer is, doubtlessly, a voyeur and a poacher; one who crouches waiting to capture a wonder. Sometimes he simply shoots and puts his trust in chance rewarding him with a good picture. Other times, he searches for angles, postures and expressions; he lurks cunningly and, with infinite patience, encourages the appearance of an epiphany, that magical moment in which a gesture or expression allows him to capture a unique image, to pass on a story and a drama from where there only seemed to be a chess player before a board.
Much like a machine or a painting, photographic composition consists of several elements, not just gestures or expressions, nor the colourful or exuberant clothing of the player, but also the details that surround human beings in their avatars of competition: chess pieces, board, clock, scoresheets, objects placed on the table –a cup of coffee, a misplaced spoon, a cookie, a crumpled tissue. Objects and featuresthat claim their well-deserved share of the spotlight in the captured frame. The more dramatic and expressive they are, the richer the photograph achieved.
The images of David Llada impact us because they are witness to unique moments in the universal drama of the chequered board. Actors, framings, lights and shadows reveal themselves to us in a perfect orchestration. The photographer, the artist, becomes thereby the inspired notary of an intense, singular atmosphere. And we become the privileged audience of that retrieval of tension, beauty and suffering.
Congratulations, and thank you in the name of chess lovers.