CURIOSITY + X-RAYS + ART: THE PERFECT COMBINATION

At a time when visual arts seem to have exhausted much of the traditional resources, artists dare with new techniques and methods to enter an unknown soil where everything is possible. Thus, there is room for surprise, innovation and exploration, in a novel and, at times, risky forms of expression.

One of these examples is the resource to X-rays to capture images. The use of radiographs in art is not entirely new, although its applications have been mostly for study purposes, to discover the invisible layers of paintings, analyse pieces in authentication processes or look for hidden brush-strokes of the great masters, with the will to better understand their creative process. The use of this technique for genuine artworks, however, is quite recent, but its appeal is such that some artists have specialised in imitating the aspect of an X-ray in their proposals, as so the Londoner Shock-1 does.

Beyond the curiosity of analysing objects from their deepest layers, the truth is that its visual impact allows getting unexpected results, with an undeniable artistic potential. This is the path that some creators have followed, in which some have ended only by chance or derived from a professional speciality that is in direct contact with this technique. For this reason, many authors of radiographic art are scientists or doctors who have known to see in their daily images a different creative application. We share some of their proposals with you.

Photographer Nick Veasey explores a more human and active side in his proposals. The use of X-rays for this author has a more analytical and less compositional aim. As he himself explains, his work tries to transcend what’s visible in a world dominated by the image. This way, all the connotations that we associate with an ideal appearance of wealth, power or status dissipate. He aspires to look for what is beyond, in the essence of what makes us equal, while revealing hidden details about structure, form or movement. His photographs are fascinating and captivating.

Arie Van’t Riet, L: “Art, flowers” - R: “Sandersonia Dragonfly Butterfly”

Arie Van't Riet is a medical physicist who ended up making art through X-rays. In his interior studio, provided with three X-ray machines, he composes his floral still lifes, in which the elegant delicacy of the petals, the transparency of the leaves or the fragile structure of the butterfly wings are always visible. The of Van't Riet combines this work with a digital colouring task, to give rise to these images full of harmony and balance.

Steven N. Meyers, L: “Celosias” - R: “Red Magnolia”

Steven N. Meyers moves in a similar way, although this author dismisses digital colouring in his compositions. In that sense, his work is more naturalistic and offers results closer to traditional screen printing or lithography. But what he also shares is the search for balance in the image. His choices are never left to chance. There is a serene elegance based on the structure, the staging of the elements and the purity of the light. Therefore, the whole of his work manages to convey a great hidden beauty.

 

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.