Helio Leon – Reality is Fiction

work by Helio Leon introduction by Brian Quillinan 18th April 2016



When photographs seem to transmit strong emotions I am very curious to look deeper. For me this is a sign of authenticity and honestly.. self honesty on the photographer’s part. It’s one thing to take a photograph because you may think people will like the result but to get used to that ‘way’ is to gradually forget to self reflect during the process. There is a trap which is capable of catching any photographer in that is can be easy to learn to shoot with the aesthetic of another photographer but impossible to replicate their emotional content. I believe that all great photographers have a moment of realisation in this respect in that while they learn from others aesthetics and subject matter their photography in the end is about them, the uniqueness of their perspective and their position in the world. Photographs I believe are in a sense the subordinate product; a reflection of the photographer’s own way of being. To mention the words of Bruce Lee, “The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”




So photographs, whether by intent or otherwise are undoubtedly windows to the photographer’s connection with their subjects. They are without fail raw records of this collaboration. This understanding when taken on board will presumably allow the photographer to make greater sense of work retrospectively.. greater sense of the world and their own position in it. It changes their process.. it allows them to question.




Helio_Street_38This process of making sense of images in relation to ones own position seems to me to be consistently evident through Helio’s work. While some of his work can be labelled street photography, as he has not set out with the premise of specifically being a street photographer he is not bound by the conditioning of street photography’s do’s and don’ts.

When I met Helio, I quickly realised that photography has become an extension of his being, an essential part of his thought process and communication with the outside world.. and in a sense quite likely, a therapy. Helio’s roots from a family immersed in the arts in Madrid for several generations helps colour his perspective on which to interpret the intricacies and allegories of life today. He comes across as a man who questions with a deep intensity and his work follows suit in this regard. He seems to question his own beliefs and re-evaluate his position with regularity and this in a sense amounts to what I would see as an internal struggle to understand the complexities of modern social life in his own particular way. Limits, excesses, vulnerabilities and sensibilities are laid bare to be questioned. The honesty, vulnerability, mystery, comfort, discomfort, the pain and the pleasure of human relations are explored and witnessed seemingly without compromise or hesitation. The sexually charged subject matter, the raw feeling, is the metaphorically rich result of someone with the bravery to question their reality.

During some of our discussions [which I always find interesting], Helio has mentioned to me about the question of what is real versus what is fiction. This blurred line seems to represent the struggle within him to gain greater understanding of his world, incidentally a struggle that I believe not many are willing to face today. This is something I find very commendable about his character and something that makes his work incredibly alluring and present. I believe this makes his work relevant today and also tomorrow.





You can find out more about Helio here..



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