‘Accidentally on purpose’, although through a lot of sweat and tears, young Mikel Muruzabal, from Navarra, has become one of the most recognizable fashion photographers in Spain. Dedicated to architecture and advertising as well, Muruzabal puts out images that are very clean, precise and impactful, although in a subtle way.
Like a lot of artists, Mikel was never a good student; mind you, he devoted himself to all things creative. In fact, he was always passionate about drawing, although a slacker. And that was the same way Muruzabal found he was with photography, discovering little by little that it was a much more pragmatic and efficient medium than drawing with paper and pencil.
Muruzabal began teaching himself to do things in a different way, and as it goes when someone is self-taught, inspiration can come from anywhere with no limit or end. This was the way, with effort and work, that he developed images that were very original, personal and increasingly more mysterious.
Always playing with the settings, lighting, color and presence or not of certain elements, Mikel seeks to create authenticity in his images despite the tricks of the studio and use of his favorite tool –that for him represents painting in this play of mechanized drawing–, Photoshop.
Initially, Muruzabal entered into the professional world wanting to be an architect, something that left a defining mark on some of his most personal urban series, like Los Angeles and the Generic City. Beneath this portrait, Mikel tries to comprehend the very essence of the city, playing amid the thin lines between fiction and reality that is respired in every corner. To do that, he makes a subtle wink that only the most observant spectator sees, first eliminating all the signs and texts in the image, and once empty of context, turning it into a neutral canvas. In fact, every location is an intersection that was once a Hollywood set, like a metaphor for a moment of calm and analysis that at any moment will succumb to the classic frenetic flow of a city like Los Angeles.
In similar series, Muruzabal also tries to understand Berlin, La Havana, Benidorm, Bilbao and Lisbon, among other cities, once again neutralizing their layouts –this time in black and white– to eliminate the hierarchy among the elements so as to allow the architecture and its dimensions to speak for themselves. After all of this, Mikel looks at photography as not just a medium of expression for the subject of the image, but one to be studied and understood.
When it comes to fashion, however, Mikel draws on references more surreal and creative, with the freedom awarded him with every collection he shoots. It is here he lets go of the reins a bit so his imagination can take hold.
From the visual power of photography, its proximity to drawing and to design and its ability to communicate so that many can share the vision of one, Mikel Muruzabal has been shaping the photographic language into a tool that can be used to understand the world around us.