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For the young photographer, the purchase of his first Leica was also a symbol of his intention to take his life into his own hands, as of that moment. This is how Alejandro Castellote described that key moment in the catalogue for Eyes Wide Open!, that has been part of the 100 Years of Leica Photography jubilee presentation, since 2014. Back in the day, Masats exchanged his motorbike for a used Leica M3; as a result, photography was to gain increasing importance for his professional life. In the late fifties, he belonged to a group of young photographers who gave Spanish photography an enormously innovative push forward. The aim was that it would be more than just documentation or a dogmatic depiction of society – one that hardly evolved during the Franco era. The work of Masats is defined by a humanistic, open and, at times, socio-critical eye.

Among the Catalan photographer's iconic motifs – taken at the end of the fifties and in the early sixties –, is the still fascinating image of football playing seminarians shown here: the photographer placed himself behind the goal, and waited for the decisive, dramatic moment. He was well rewarded: despite the long cassock, the young candidate to the priesthood stretched out virtually horizontally, flying towards the ball, making it almost appear as though he was suspended in mid-air. The picture is perfectly composed; the goalie's figure and shadow are the central feature, while the rest of the seminarians seem like film extras. The shot, in fact, did lead to a goal... if you look more closely, you can see that the ball has flown past the goalie's hand. Religion and football, two very important subjects in Spanish society, are brought together in a first-rate, surprising, and maybe somewhat ironic manner. “When you take a good photograph, something clicks in your brain and says to you that it's good,” Masats commented about his perfect picture, during an interview last year with the El País newspaper. The picture was taken at the Seminario Conciliar in Madrid, during an assignment for the Gaceta Illustrada.

Time and again, it was typical for Masats to offer a unique view of daily life in Spain in his newspaper reportages. This resulted in motifs that still create an impression today, far beyond the original context within which they were taken. Masats' style thrives on strong contrasts. He has developed a precise sense for composition and alignment. These characteristics are equally evident in all of the motifs presented here.

Today, we congratulate Ramón Masats on his 90th birthday, and look forward to further discoveries in his body of photographic work. (Ulrich Rüter)
Seminaristen, Madrid 1960. Courtesy Blanca Berlín
Sanfermines, 1957. Courtesy Blanca Berlín
Tomelloso, 1960. Courtesy Blanca Berlín
© Thomas Canet, 2021

Ramón Masats

Ramón Masats was born on March 17, 1931 in Caldes de Montbui (Barcelona). He has been living in Madrid, since 1957. In 1959, he became a founding member of La Palangana, as well as a member of the AFAL (Asociación Fotográfica de Almería) Group. Starting in 1965, he worked as a film and television director. His photographs have been rediscovered in recent years, and were presented at the Visit Spain exhibition, within the framework of PHotoESPAÑA 2020. His work has also appeared on various occasions at the Blanca Berlín Galería in Madrid. Masats has received numerous honours, including the National Photo Award (2004), the PhotoEspaña Award (2014), and the Alcobendas International Photography Award, last year.

Blanca Berlin Galeria
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