Sylvia Polakov was an overwhelming character and woman, difficult and very beautiful. The great photographer of society and the Madrid scene. Her name was Silvia but we all called her La Polakov.
The first time I saw her photos was at the home of my friend Susi Limberg, who was his muse, and I was fascinated. They were fantastic. They introduced us one night, I don’t remember where.
It had been a short time since I had arrived in Madrid; she was a flood of ideas words, as if she wanted to convey to you all the information of a moment and also of her life. It left you exhausted and in awe of so much energy. I decided to get a portrait done after insisting.
She came to my house one morning to take positions and get an idea of what we could do. I’m normally a pretty confident person, but she threw me off, she was probably right, but I didn’t want a disguised portrait of myself. She ruffled my hair, she wanted them more marked, with more intensity of dark pencil.
She got to fill me in such a way that I decided that he would leave me alone and that I did not want any photo of her. She was not used to being rebelled. It was terribly authoritative, so the photo was not taken. Over time we loved each other a lot, but I never spoke of that “frustrated photo” moment again and I have to admit that I regret not having a good portrait of her.
The best photo of Queen Sofia was made by her. There was also tension, because she did not like how much the Emerita moved her hands. The result was beautiful: it conveys a moment of relaxation, with an arm pose difficult to see in real portraits that are always very hieratic and stereotyped.
The Queen smiles relaxed, I imagine thinking: what patience I have had! And at that precise moment the camera “clicked”.
There was a time when Madrid was the option. The best place in the world to have fun. London, Paris, New York seemed decadent places. Our flag was freedom, the city full of beautiful and unapologetic people until dawn. That was called «La Movida» and Silvia’s lens was there portraying her: its streets and the jet set of the moment, much more fun and sophisticated than the current one, was dying for a photo of her.
I just found a moment from a night that I had already forgotten and was unique. They were photos taken from a crazy party for Vogue magazine, Polakov appears in a corner with her dark glasses and camera in hand. It is evocative.
A lot of memories have popped into my head. We finish at dawn bathing in the pool almost naked. We were certainly happier and more uninhibited.
Silvia Polakov passed away this week. She had suffered from Alzheimer’s for a little over a year. It was withering. She even forgot about herself. Dear Silvia, rest in Peace. We will meet again and from wherever you are, your energy will continue to observe us.