Peter Dench/Cristobal Hara · Drunks and surrealism

Peter Dench’s images of drunken brits

Denche’s images have a strong touch of the surreal, the vulgar and the sad. In general he depicts people in a state of drunkenness, seeming to perhaps be ever present at places where people are likely to humiliate and embarrass themselves.

From the series Drunk UK © Peter

One can see in Denche’s work the influence, or even the presence of Martin Parr both in form and content. The only difference as far as I can tell is that Dench uses a particular subject matter whereas Parr focuses on the myriad eccentricities of the British. Dench indeed shows a public that is embarrassing the look at.

The surrealism with drunkenness to my mind goes hand in hand with the subject. In other words, the surreality is never far away from the drunken person as you know that sooner or later something ridiculous will be done, said or enacted in public. This therefore is quite easy subject matter. However, I like it for what it is: a frank document of which perhaps is one of the areas where classlessness shows up in Britain: boozing!

Cristóbal Hara
Cristobal Hara, Laza, 1993

Hara’s work fits into the same genre as that of Dench albeit with cultural reference points that are different. Hara’s work focuses for the most part on cultural, religious and historical norms and practices of Spain using juxtaposition and humour via surrealist leanings to provide an image of his country.

Hara began as a photojournalist and later went on to make his own work in the style that is more well know. He started in black and white and progressed onto colour. I notice quite a big shift in his practice between black and white and colour, not only in terms of style but a decisive shift in approach. His series: ‘an imaginary Spaniard’, looks from his perspective at a culture phenomena in colour rather than a particular Spaniard. Hara explores cultural behaviour and themes such as sex, god, sin, seductive women etc. from his own particular idiomatic stance (Marsell, 2007))[1]

Hara crosses the imaginary and the real. The title of the series ‘an imaginary spaniard’ I find curious as I am fairly familiar with Spain and its ways. I find it interesting that we have a portrayal of images of Spain that represent a so called imaginary culture, when to me these things seem very real. The chaos, ceremony, contradiction and machismo is there to be seen if you know where to go. I am inspired by Hara’s work as I have often considered myself making a long term project of Spain. I feel that there is something interesting there to look at the could be about the contemporary issues in Spain, the growth of foreigners (brits especially), the way that they integrate (or don’t) into the culture and consequently remain ‘outsiders’ in the their havens.

Hara’s work is quite strong and I feel highlights particular juxtapositions and irrational modes of thinking that seem to exist side by side in Spanish culture.


  1. Marsell, Huis. Crisobol Hara, an imaginary Spaniard (1985) [online] [accessed, March 2020]

Published by Truevisionphotography

I'm a student photographer studying through the OCA a UK based arts university. I'm in the foundation year of my studies and enjoying it immensely. I'm also a yoga teacher and co-founder of Bodhiyoga a buddhism based yoga teacher training program that runs in the UK and Spain each year. As a photographer I'm interested in all forms of fine art. I find the arts really important in my life. I love nature and aim to be in the outdoors as much as I can. Generally I think that all the different strands of my life are flowing to towards self development in the greatest sense of the term. The arts, buddhist practice yoga and meditation are all tools to that end. I feel committed to communication the these values in the world both through the visual arts as well as teaching.

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