Inside Cristobal Ascencio’s enigmatic photos

“Due to the taboo around suicide, society ignores it,” says Cristobal Ascencio. “I realised if I worked with this subject, I could create a conversation around suicide from my perspective. I knew it would be tough, but it felt important to try.”

The Mexican-born, Madrid-based artist lost his father not once but twice. At 15, his father Margarito, a gardener whose name in Spanish means daisy, died from a heart attack. Margarito’s story remained that way until two years ago, when Ascencio found out his father in fact died by suicide.

“With this new information, I started looking at everything differently,” he explains. “I began to feel like everything I knew about our relationship was somehow shifting and being rearranged. My dad’s death has always been something I held very sacred – it was a traumatic event that shaped me. When the circumstances around this changed, I questioned everything, trying to make sense of my memories.”

Top and above: From the series Las Flores Mueren Dos Veces

Growing up in a large, tight-knit family in ­Guadalajara, Ascencio always understood family photographs to be precious objects. Hoarded in chests and albums, picture-making was a love language, a way to hold people close and feel together even when they were apart. From a young age, he remembers taking images from the family collections to make his own. “I always felt nostalgic about the past, and I wanted to be close to those moments, so I kept those pictures near me.” For Ascencio, photography became a vessel for emotions, and this formative relationship with pictures laid the blueprint for his career.

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