Ruvén Afanador is an internationally renowned photographer of limitless imagination, powerful vision and profound sense of self. He was born in Colombia, and his proud Latin American heritage has inspired his extensive body of work creating an intensely personal language characterized by the balance of bold emotion and delicate nuance.
The expressive images in his six books: Torero
, Mil Besos
, Ángel Gitano
, Yo seré tu espejo
and Hijas del Agua
, and his portraiture and fashion editorials, reveal extravagant dreamlike sequences that seem to emerge from Afanador’s original imagination already full grown, always splendid sometimes mischievous, often decadent, all steeped in classic formality.
Ruven’s work has appeared in countless publications including New York Magazine
, Vanity Fair
, Rolling Stone
, The Hollywood Reporter
, The New York Times Magazine
, numerous Vogue
, and The New Yorker
His personal projects have been exhibited in Galleries and Museums in Spain, Italy, Colombia, Argentina, Japan and the United States. His most recent exhibition was at the National Museum of Colombia
in Bogota this past winter and spring 2021 and it comprised 60 large format photographs from his Hijas del Agua
book project paying homage to the indigenous cultures that have inhabited Colombia for thousands of years.
He lives in New York City from where he continues his career photographing the emblematic figures of contemporary fashion, music and film, as well as his personal book projects, always challenging the conventional definitions of gender and beauty.
Source: Sarah Laird & Good Company
Ruven Afanador was born in Colombia, in the sixteenth century city of Bucaramanga, La Ciudad de los Parques high in the scenic plateau above the Rio de Oro. He lived there until adolescence, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and immersed in old traditions and enchanting rituals that imbued everyday life with mystery and wonderment. Religious ceremonies involved the meticulous costuming of saints and marked every holiday, turning narrow colonial streets into rich visual feasts where ordinary objects acquired symbolic meaning; elaborate beauty pageants showcased glamorous women of deliberate beauty and intentional charm; and long hours were filled with the reading of adventure books or listening to the improbable tales of those coming back from journeys abroad, a peculiar form of imaginary traveling which nurtured an intense curiosity for faraway places.
At fourteen, Afanador moved to the United States to attend school in the Midwest, right in the American heartland, a starkly different place from the magical world of his childhood, but one he saw as full of possibilities. And then, while studying art, he discovered photography. “From my first assignment I knew that photography would be my life’s passion”
, says Afanador. With that passion, he would transform ordinary reality into captivating splendor. Or, as he himself puts it, “....into my way of seeing things.”
After graduation Afanador spent two years in Washington, DC, gaining distinction as a fashion photographer of audacious taste, as well as a portraitist with an original and inventive eye. In 1987 he moved to Milan to broaden his vision, hone his technical skills and build a portfolio. Lack of studio space in the Italian city, forced him to develop techniques for photographing outdoors, in alleyways and streets, on the steps of churches and palazzos, incorporating backgrounds to frame images with texture and depth, a highly conceptual approach that Afanador uses to this day. While in Italy, he also discovered the type of model, that was to become his prototype: interesting rather than conventionally beautiful, of sculpted neck and arms, and the graceful long torso for centuries favored by painters----enigmatic and timeless.
He returned from Italy in 1990 with an impressive portfolio, settling in New York and soon coming to the attention of editors at the major magazines. Since then, his distinct fashion editorials, signature advertisements and iconic portraits of the emblematic beauties and powerful male figures of the worlds of contemporary art, literature, music and film, have constantly appeared in the world’s leading fashion, celebrity and portrait magazines. His work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and installations in galleries, museums and outdoor spaces in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the United States.
Source: Fahey/Klein Gallery