THE VALENCIA AREA IN SPAIN IS A MUCH-LOVED AREA OF THOSE WHO KEEP THEMSELVES BUSY WITH SPELEOLOGY. SPELEOLOGY, ALSO KNOWN AS CAVING, IS THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY AND EXPLORATION OF UNDERGROUND CAVITIES. THE LIMESTONE CAVES IN THE VALENCIA REGION, THAT WERE ONLY DISCOVERED IN THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY, OFFER A TREASURE FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO DWELL UNDERGROUND. AND IT TRULY IS AMAZING, NOT ONLY TO SEE THOSE ROCK FORMATIONS AND LAYERS THAT TELL US SO MUCH ABOUT THE GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY OR OUR PLANET, BUT ALSO THE STORIES LEFT BEHIND BY THOSE WHO LIVED OR PASSED HERE SUCH UNCOUNTABLE YEARS AGO. HISTORY HAS BEEN PRESERVED HERE IN WAYS WE CAN PROBABLY NEVER MATCH.
Pascual Ibañez was born in the Barrio del Carmen, one of the nicest historical neighbours of the city of Valencia, Spain. Being born and raised in such an historical part of an old city, it was almost impossible for Pascual not to be influenced by the past. Add to that that close to Valencia one can find the oldest known cave drawings, dating back approximately 40,000 years. Already at the early age of 15 Pascual became fascinated by the underground world near his city that had so much to offer and he picked up the hobby, or should I say passion, of caving. It was also at this time he picked up a photo camera for the first time. His speleology sports offered him the opportunity to make magnificent photographs of underground spectacles. And even though he has moved on from that now, it seems that those first experiences, working with impressive rock formations, crystalized walls and dramatic shadows and cave painting, have become the palette for his own expressions of art.
Since the early 1990’s Pascual Ibañez moved his camera from underground caves to the more glamorous surroundings of fashion houses. His skills in photography became known in the industry and Pascual established himself as a renowned fashion photographer. Having fashion still as a high priority, he has over the past years also ventured in other areas of photography, such as travel, art, men and women and nudes. His work is impeccable and shows a quality that can only be described as timeless. One can imagine that having spent so much time underground in close surroundings of those millennia old paintings, Pascual seems to be driven to leave his own mark in history. And though it seems not likely that photography will stand the passing of time as well as those well preserved drawings, Pascual most certainly has succeeded in creating his own legacy.
Over the past years we have been so lucky to see several of Pascual’s photographic series and they all stand out. One of the things most of his series have in common is his use of raw materials, something that undeniable finds its origins in Pascual earlier fascination with caves and rocks. His work with Luis Ansa, a 32-year-old Navarrese model, is another perfect example. Black Bathroom is a set created in – indeed – a bathroom. But not just any bathroom. This one is constructed entirely out of grey stone slate. A backdrop that gives the photos a sensuality that the model transmits to the camera. Luis himself is not unpleasant to look at either of course. And neither are the apparel pieces he is – or is not - showing.
40,000 years ago, those who documented their daily life on the walls of a cave could not imagine that today many people enjoy their primitive ways of art and communications. So who knows, with a little bit of luck, in a few thousand years someone will gaze over the works of Pascual Ibañez with that same admiration. –BM-