Rio Branco’s oeuvre will meet all expectations that we fostered, within the Croatian cultural discourse, towards the visual arts of the Hispanic circle, and particularly that of Latin American artists.
Indeed, our aesthetic code is so measurably different that,already at first glance, Rio Branco’s photographs appear exotic even though we certainly recognize all their component parts and the methodology the artist employs when creating the specific atmosphere of his compositions.
Like all photographers, Rio Branco records the reality that surrounds him and in ithe finds, like all artists do, situations and elements that will, when isolated through his observation and formed by his authorial approach, result in perception of reality tailored to his personal measure. Rio Branco is exceptionally suggestive artist. His framing encloses the scene economically and out of only a few selected and recorded visual stimuli, the observer’s imagination spontaneously recognizes or anticipates the course of event. He is a master of detail andnarrow shotsthat focus the viewers’ attention on the scenetheir imagination will use as thedriver of narrative sequence that took place before, i.e. after the shot was taken, soone has a feeling as if looking at a frame taken out from film. The feathers scattered on pavement or a blood spot and a discarded dagger,in his typical chiaroscuro manner, are sufficient indicators that what took place was inevitable, fatal and brutal. The mood is suffocating, the action is taking place in an atmosphere saturated with scent, frankincense, humid body vapours even though, based on the presented photographs, people are not his favourite motif. Rio Branco is one of those visual artists in whose works the suggestion of the invisible, that which is omitted, is equally powerful as the visible. Rio Branco’s frame is an excellent trigger of the phenomenon of sensory synaesthesia. His photographs can be heard and smelled as much as they are seen. Materials are easily recognized, surfaces tactilely convincing, while Rio Branco’s masterful control and manipulation of light adds visual opulenceasa crucial factor in the powerful charge and ambience of the composition. The reality recorded and presented by Rio Branco is very scenic, full of minutely registered details, sensual in materials, almost ecstatic in his ability to reveal macabre sensuality that is seething in the most unexpected spaces such as side streets, dusty church niches, or circus arenas. Based on the selected photographs, Rio Branco’s interest lies in the urban spaces, often segments of the grandiose Baroque architecture, especially church interiors, as well as details of sculptures and paintings which, albeit anonymous, indicate with their verism the proverbial Hispanic need and ability to provoke the viewer’s and believer’s empathytowards the suffering and ecstasies of saints