Val del Omar

From Gutenberg to Faraday

Max Estrella has the pleasure to present José Val del Omar’s oeuvre (Granada 1904 – Madrid 1982) for the first time in a gallery setting. His work was presented for years in cinephile circuits, international cinematheques, numerous institutions, museums and universities until Manuel Borja-Villel, current director of the Reina Sofía Museum, granted him the place he deserves as an unclassifiable and unique figure of the Spanish avant-garde movement.

Val del Omar’s technical and artistic duality –traits impossible to separate- leads Val del Omar to define himself as a “Cinemist” (filmmaker + alchemist) and his films as “Cinegraphies”. Between 1953 and 1962 he accomplishes what will be considered his masterpiece: Tríptico Elemental de España (Elementary Triptych of Spain), composed by three films he planned on projecting in reverse order of their filming. The first one, presented in Max Estrella, was Aguaespejo Granadino or La Gran Siguiriya, manifestation of his Diaphonic Sound system patented in 1944. This consists in setting up two sound sources one in front of and one behind of the spectator, resulting in a dialogue between what is seen and heard.
In the second one, Fuego en Castilla, he uses techniques such as the Apanoramic Overflow of the Image –another one of the inventions applied in Aguaespejo granadino– and the Tactile-vision presented at the 1955 Turin Technique Congress. Both inventions set up a sort of corporeal journey, confronting two opposed audiovisual concepts –figurative and abstract, concrete and expanded– outranging the two-dimensional construction of images. This film was awarded at the 1961 Cannes Festival for its technical merits of pulsatory lighting. As part of this trilogy that
travels through Spain, Val del Omar lastly shoots Acariño Galaico (De Barro) in 1961, film he leaves unfinished. Thanks to the numerous annotations left by Val del Omar about montage and sound, the final edition was completed for its premiere in 1995.