Rediscovering the Forgotten Past: Unveiling Galicia's Hidden Photographic Gems

For some, it's a glimpse into the annals of memory, while for others, it's an exercise in imagination. There was once a Santiago where sausage shops proudly displayed their cured meats for all to see and touch, where milkmaids gracefully balanced heavy cans of fresh milk on their heads, and where lampreys arrived in baskets, sold right in the middle of the street. Likewise, in A Coruña, one could stumble upon a flock of sheep grazing at the foot of the Tower of Hercules. These are the images of a forgotten Galicia, now resurrected and ready to be embraced by those with a keen interest in delving into the past.

Capturing the essence of a lost Compostela, these timeless photos are the work of Ramón Sánchez Estalote, a wandering photographer who immortalized the Santiago of the 1940s and '50s, leaving behind a fascinating and largely unknown body of work that is now being rediscovered by experts. Estalote takes center stage in an exhibition at Casa do Cabido, open until November, and is an essential stop on any stroll through the city. The photographer's story is not only captivating because he created a photographic memory of a bygone era but also because his career took an unconventional path, deviating from the traditional trajectory of exhibition photographers.

Estalote was one of those street photographers, capturing images of anyone who needed to be photographed, rejecting clichés and pushing the boundaries of conventional backgrounds. Disenchanted with typical poses and mundane settings, he dared to create something different. His photos of the nooks and crannies of Compostela became postcard-worthy, circulating from mailbox to mailbox, while the authorship remained a mystery to many. Although Estalote worked for many years and continued taking photos well into his 90s, his images remained hidden until after his passing.

However, Estalote isn't the sole photographer with a remarkable story among the hidden treasures awaiting discovery in Compostela's museums this autumn. A stroll through the city's exhibition halls must include a visit to the CGAC, where another forgotten artist's work is being resurrected.

Enter Arissa, an equally captivating artist from early 20th century Barcelona. Initially a typographer, Arissa inherited the family business at the young age of 20. However, his true passion lay in the arts, leading him to delve into the world of photography. At first, he followed the prevailing trend of creating photographs reminiscent of paintings, but soon he embarked on an experimental journey into avant-garde territory. Unlike Estalote, who captured fleeting moments, Arissa crafted images that evoked emotions and sparked the imagination.

Unlike Estalote, Arissa's career was cut short. The Spanish Civil War brought an end to the avant-garde movement in Spain, abruptly halting his artistic pursuits. His photographs were tucked away, forgotten, and only resurfaced after his passing.

As you explore Compostela's museums this season, prepare to be enchanted by these remarkable photographic finds. Take a step back in time, immerse yourself in the stories they tell, and marvel at the ingenuity and artistry that continues to captivate us decades later.