Iñaki Bonillas presents Jazz Covers from the J.R. Plaza en Siembra, a series that explores the relationship between photographic language and design in the visual communication of jazz. The care in graphic design, the variety of abstract shapes, the rich color palette, and the authenticity and intimacy of the album covers from the late 1950s and 1960s fascinated Bonillas. Two decades ago, the artist inherited an enormous collection of photographs and personal material from his grandfather José Rodríguez Plaza. Among the documents in this archive is an extensive collection of self-portraits, where body language and image composition make him look like an attractive and charismatic icon or celebrity. Bonillas found resonances between the self-portraits and the photographs on the covers of these jazz albums. For the works he presents, the artist removes the text from the covers and replaced the photographs of the musicians with self-portraits by J.R. Plaza. By eliminating the text from the covers, Bonillas brings to the foreground the different visual elements of the composition and shows the influence of abstract art in their design.
One day, while Bonillas was listening to John Coltrane's album Giant Steps, one of his grandfather's self-portraits came to mind where he appears sitting on a small staircase with a histrionic expression of disappointment and pointing a gun at his head with humorous despair. He himself had cut out the picture and pasted it over a cardboard and drawn a graph that indicated the years '63, '64, '65, '66 and a red zigzagging line in a downward direction, perhaps indicating the decline of something in his life. Precisely during those years, both jazz and design were at an effervescent point generating innovative and revolutionary proposals. The album covers of young designers like Reid Miles became stylistic landmarks and visual signifiers of energy, freedom, and modernity. The contrast between the rise suggested by the album title, Giant Steps, and the decline indicated by the image, coupled with the formal resonances of the portrait, prompted the collage in Bonillas' mind in the form of an album cover and detonated this new series of 60 prints, each in a vinyl sleeve format that is presented in Siembra.
The J.R. Plaza archive opened a path in Bonillas' practice towards the appropriation and recycling of photographic material that he proposed to work with the images that already exist instead of creating new ones. Since then, his work has experimented with different approaches to archival material and investigated the materiality and semiotic depth of photography as a medium.