Leonora Vicuña (1952) is a Chilean photographer and Professor of Photography in Santiago. During the period Chile was under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) Vicuña spent some years living and working in France, although her move abroad was not motivated by political reasons. She is one of the original founders of AFI, the first association of professional independent photographers in Chile that fought for the restoration of democracy between 1981 and 1990.
Vicuña’s photographic practice is based on the thoughtful observation of urban culture. Her images powerfully capture nocturnal scenes in Paris, Barcelona and Santiago, the bars and restaurants she frequented and the people she came across; musicians, waiters, transvestites and vagabonds amongst other characters. In doing so she brings a sense of life and conviviality to the underbelly of these urban settings. From 1979 onwards, Vicuña began intervening on the surface of her silver gelatin prints with colour pigments and pencils to recreate the atmosphere of the original scenes. This particular technique imbues her images with a nostalgic aesthetic, giving them a unique and timeless quality.
Vicuña’s work has been exhibited internationally since 1980 and is included in important public and private collections. She participated in América Latina: 1960-2013 at the Fondation Cartier, Paris (2013) and Urbes Mutantes, International Center of Photography, New York (2014). She has been the recipient of several grants and awards including the Fondart Grant from the Republic of Chile (2001 and 2006) and The Altazor Award of the National Arts, Chile (2010).