THE SEDUCTION OF MYSTERY

Miquel Alzueta, Robert Drees, Fucking Art, Alba Cabrera and MH Art Galleries

 

The seduction of the unknown, hidden and mysterious, is one of those things that is hard to describe. Many times we do not even know how that feeling begins, why something becomes so attractive or how it becomes a permanent thought. The mystery can be ineffable, because it is not easy to express it with words and, perhaps due to this verbal difficulty, it is more possible to express it through other languages, such as the language of images, the shapes of visual arts.

Hugo Alonso

Son, 2018

Acrylic on paper

50 x 50cm

Jordi Alcaraz

Untitled, 2018

Mixed media

55 x 65cm

The appealing proposal from the gallery directed by Miquel Alzueta comes from Barcelona. In its booth, the audience can appreciate the unique poetics of Jordi Alcazar, an artist who “paints without paint”, who "makes meta-painting, or almost", as the journalist José Ángel Montañés pointed out. The overwhelming and conceptual work of Alcazar invites us to question the very nature of painting, its shapes, techniques and messages, at the same time revealing the narrow (and sometimes conflicting) relationship it may have with literature, or rather with the exercise of reading, something that overwhelms the day to day of the artist. His pieces are small books with dark and deep holes, like a kind of precipices: there is no doubt that literature can calm and even heal a restless mind, but it must not be forgotten that it can become a pernicious obsession for those who love it in excess. Living other lives, starring in the stories of "others" and holding our particular disappointments back, is a great temptation that the artist Hugo Alonso knows very well. In his paintings on paper, in which thriller film hints are revealed, it always seems that something crucial is about to happen, or something revealing has just happened; in fact the seductive feeling of curiosity that the gaze hides, very enhanced in these works by the unreality of black and white.

Andrea Torres Balaguer

Vermilion, 2018

Mixed media

142 x 112cm

The seduction produced by mystery is also very present in the photographs of the series "The Unknown" by Andrea Torres Balaguer: stylish women whose faces have been veiled by brushstrokes, drips, mineralized paint. The mystery, the fascination, the hidden tale or the pure aesthetic pleasure are traits that have characterized the works of the young photographer since her beginnings. Very different female portraits are those presented by the painter Lídia Masllorens: firsthand close-ups sometimes only enlarged details, represented through an agile, liquid brushwork, but guided in a very conscious way. The Catalan gallery closes with the work of Maria Yelletisch, essentially graphic, conceptual and compiler spirit; and with the personal mythology of the, only in appearance, playful Edgar Plans -also represented by the Marita Segovia gallery.

Pepa Salas

Desiderare con l'anima I, 2018

Mixed media on canvas

100 x 150cm

Markus Fräger

Der helle Schein 1, 2018

Oil on canvas

50 x 70cm

Undoubtedly enigmatic are the works presented by Robert Drees Gallery (Hannover). From the figurative, provided by the paintings of Pepa Salas, creator of sensual images and the intriguing stories in which the reality of black and white is usually disrupted with the introduction of discordant elements in colour; or the more expressionistic work by Markus Fräger, in which stories the chosen time is given a complex meaning and sublimated by the artist, who masterfully explores the psychology of portraits and the aura of environments.

Michael Laube

21-17, 2017

Acrylic on glass

40 x 100cm

Jürgen Jansen

Kerames III, 2018

Tinta y acuarelas sobre papel

125 x 158cm

The mystery comes many times precisely from duality, to unite opposite aspects, as does the South Korean artist Sun Rae Kim in her fantasies in rubber and paper: reflecting at the same time on the outer surface and the inner structure, in her work traditional materials of Korean culture along with others imposed by current industrial times are combined. The two most abstract proposals presented by the German gallery can also seem mysterious: the beautiful and ethereal installations in acrylic glass by Michael Laube; or the most hypnotizing and risky paintings of Jürgen Jansen, in which a final layer of the resin often makes them irresistible.

Carlos Regueira

Bosque de Ferrolterra, 2017

Mixed media, photography and painting

70 x 35cm

Alfonso Zubiaga

Binario I. It Isn´t chaos, it´s just Binary, 2018

Photography

83 x 113cm

The artists of Fucking Art present in this edition of Art Madrid an interesting selection of their most recent creations, as the hybrid landscapes by Carlos Regueira, between photography and painting: intriguing from that peculiar solitude, allure from the beauty of the inhospitable. The audience can also find out the new pieces of Alfonso Zubiaga that give continuity to the series "It is not chaos, it is only binary", where the photographer introduces us to the contradictions between the analogue and digital worlds from the depth of lyric nights of strange serenity.

Atauri

Árbol y escalera, 2018

Tinta sobre papel

100 x 100cm

Isabel Alonso Vega

Levógira, 2018

Fumes and methacrylate

30 x 30cm

Especially poetic is the work by Atauri: both in her graphic works, where the author reveals a meticulous observation and a deep passion for natural shapes, as in her object-based pieces, where the poetics of repetition are paired with more conceptual issues. The gallery selection closes with the enigmatic works in suspension by Isabel Alonso Vega: smoke, frozen and dissected scrolls inside methacrylate urns that, however, acquire extreme and unexpected beauty. Both for the alternate personality of this gallery, created and managed by the artists themselves, as well as for the nature of their proposals, can well relate to those verses by Neruda that say: "Come on, let's leave / this suffocating river / in which we swim with other fish / from dawn to shifting night / and now in this discovered space / let’s fly to a pure solitude” (translated by Alastair Reid. “The future is space. Memorial de Isla Negra", 1964).

Cristina Alabau

Nº2 Espacio sensible, 2018

Murano glass on corten iron base

55 x 40cm

The entire Valencian selection of Alba Cabrera Gallery (Valencia) includes the exotic landscapes travelled (or imagined) by Calo Carratalá: naked interpretations of the landscape from an absolute interiorization and essentiality of the shapes that seem to speak of a sense of internal exile. Also, essential lines and interiorization of nature includes the work of Cristina Alabau, artist of which the gallery exhibits a set of watercolours works and some of her sculptures made in Murano glass. Here the landscape expresses itself through poetic abstraction as an interior territory full of evoking.

José Juan Gimeno

Entre la Quinta y Broadway, selfie, 2018

Acrylic on board and serigraphy on methacrylate

100 x 100cm

Alba Cabrera completes her proposal with the work of José Juan Gimeno and his reflection on urbanism and urban anthropology. We now delve into the urban and social plots that, through the concrete readings of the works, expose a reality (or a fiction) in time as elusive as it is ours, which paradigms are in the continuous transformation.

Mónica Dixon

Nowhere Nº 8, 2018

Acrylic on canvas

50 x 50cm

Estefanía Urrutia

S. Fosforescencias 7, 2015

Oil on canvas

46 x 55cm

Finally, MH Art Gallery (Bilbao) presents the latest works by four artists. The public can enter the mysterious spaces created by Mónica Dixon: a counterpoint to the mental and visual noise of everyday life, a place of reflection marked by silence, stillness and the play of light and shadow that reveals presences that hide through the out of focus. In the same way, the characters of the oil paintings by Estefanía Urrutia appear from the silence, from the iridescence that exists in daily life, this daily normality in which so many things happen and go unnoticed but could have great aesthetic or emotional relevance.

Thilleli Rahmoun

Sin título, 2017

Mixed media on paper

150 x 175cm

The distortion of the urban web reaches great expression in the work by Thilleli Rahmoun, an Algerian artist especially sensitive to the changing concerns, experiences and ways of life of the contemporary city. Luckily, we can always take refuge in the most ancestral mysticism, as the work by the South Korean Joo Eun Bae offers through her spiritual landscapes turned into abstractions, watery and light but at the same time that compact and textural.

 

Fernando Gómez de la Cuesta is an art critic at ABC Cultural, an independent exhibition curator, a researcher and a teacher. He has a Degree in Law from the UB and in History of Art from the UIB. Member of the ACCAIB and Territorial President of the IAC. He is critical of ABC Cultural and is part of the publication Ministerio de la Verdad of the Sublime. He has been a resident curator at the Casal Solleric in Palma with different exhibition cycles (2010-3), Director of the PalmaPhoto photography festival (2013-5), he has curated CRIdA (artists' residence of the Palma City Council from 2011 to 2012), the 1st Festival of Contemporary Art of Saltillo (Coahuila, Mexico, 2015) and the Contemporary Art Fair MARTE de Castellón (2018).

He is currently preparing several exhibition projects for the CGAC of Santiago de Compostela, Cabildo de Lanzarote, Centro Párraga de Murcia and La Regenta of Las Palmas. He has curated multiple individuals and collective exhibitions in spaces such as, among others, TEA Tenerife, MUCA Rome of Mexico, Niemeyer Centre of Avilés, Kunst Haus Wien, Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation in Mallorca, Cervantes Institute in Prague, Es Baluard of Palma, Michael Horbach Stiftung of Colonia, Las Cigarreras of Alicante, Hilvaria Studios of Tilburg, Espai Rambleta of Valencia, MUU Helsinki or CEART Fuenlabrada, with the participation of artists such as Carlos Aires, Ana Laura Aláez, Irene de Andrés, Verónica R. Frías, Jorge García, Martín y Sicilia, Rosell Meseguer, Guillermo Mora, Santiago Morilla, PSJM, Avelino Sala, Amparo Sard, José Luís Serzo, Javier Vallhonrat or Simon Zabell, to name a few.

 

How did you receive this proposal from Art Madrid?

With great enthusiasm. For professionals who work from peripheral locations, in my case from a town in Mallorca called Artà, we find it very difficult to access the programs and projects that are developed in the capital. It is always a pleasure (and a responsibility) to have the opportunity to curate a proposal in Madrid, much more if you do it for a prestigious structure, as consolidated and organised, as is the international contemporary art fair Art Madrid.

 

How did you tackle this curatorship?

The truth is that since I received the invitation from Alberto Cornejo and his team I have enjoyed absolute freedom and total support to develop the idea I had in mind. Curating a section of a fair is a kind of special curatorship, you should never lose sight of where, how and why one is taking care of the selection and content of a proposal, and a contemporary art fair is a context marked by very powerful limits: one of them is the payroll of galleries that apply and the artists who present themselves; another, that all have as their first objective the sale of work. Starting from these initial conditions, I had a lot of interest in investigating something that has to do with the market as a legitimising institution within the professional developments of the current art world, also about fashions, trends, currents and about those resistant artists who decide to take paths away from them. I wanted to raise awareness about that dichotomy that already occurred between the great official salons and those creators who subverted the state of the matter from their participation in them or generating new alternative devices such as independent or des refusés salons.

 

What do you think is the role of One Project within Art Madrid?

One Project is a project that precedes me and has a foundational basis and a broad development over time. Both Carlos Delgado Mayordomo and Nerea Ubieto (colleagues who have previously curated this program) have done a great job. One Project must serve the fair to introduce new artists and new galleries, but at any cost, it must fulfil that function, no doubt, but it must do so by establishing a forum for reflection and debate, a place to put the prism on some concrete aspect of contemporary creation to be able to analyze it with a certain depth. One Project is a section that must have that plus of research, of calm, effort and rigour, to try to give another type of depth and visibility to the work of artists and gallery projects within a fair of art.

 

How do you expect the public will live the format used in this idea of ​​debate-conflict?

The title of the proposal, “Salvajes. La cage aux fauves”, already puts us on the track. Our idea, apparently contradictory, is to generate that friction based on a peculiar symbiosis, in which we have counted on artists who walk the path of creation through a path that is autonomous, personal and, sometimes, in conflict with the usual, with the recurrent, with the trend, with fashion... Artists who paint and sculpt with effort as a form of resistance and who do so in an epidermal, superfluous and vertiginous era, where hardly anyone pays attention to anything. Artists who believe from expressiveness, impulse or iconoclasm, from a passionate and vehement, visceral, desacralising or irreverent perspective. We hope that the public lives it with the same interest and the same intensity we aimed when building this story. For this, we have counted on Virginia Rivas, Roberto López, Julio Anaya Cabanding, Pichiavo, Santiago Palenzuela, Juan Carlos Batista, Andrés Planas, Alona Harpaz and Nicolàs Laìz Placeres, who are represented by DDR Art Gallery, Plastic Murs, Kaplan Projects, MA arte contemporary and the Agency of Cultural Transits.

 

What role do you think fairs play in the Spanish art market and how would you frame Art Madrid?

This and other fairs fulfil a fundamental mission when activating the sector. I believe in the fair as a dynamic agent and as a node of that network of activity that is deployed throughout the national territory, and I believe in its importance for the creation of new collectors. In my opinion, collecting, the private initiative in general, is one of the keys that can make a sector like ours become a professional economic fabric where the participating agents can live from their work, preventing it from remaining this circus of juggling games where they stay in an almost permanent precariousness. For that, basic education, a lot of pedagogy and a lot of intermediation are needed. We must increase the affection and sensitivity towards culture in general, and towards contemporary art in particular. Art Madrid undertakes this mission in a brave way, with an evolution that consolidates edition after edition. The permanence and growth of its complementary programs, where One Project is framed, demonstrates this.

 

And what do you think is the place of contemporary Spanish art within the international artistic paradigm?

Unfortunately, far from where the quality of the agents that compose it should place it. We suffer from a main problem that affects basic structures and acts as an obstacle very difficult to overcome. In many cases, we still do not charge decent fees for our work, without respecting our elementary rights, our creations and authorship, from this preliminary situation it is difficult to project an international professional career, in addition, the market and private investment are very restricted. The institutional sphere that, as in other contexts, should be our fundamental support, is still marked by political interference. In Spain, there is an excessive dependence on the public realm in what refers, above all, to contemporary art and that makes us have some political interlocutors completely unaware of what we do. These people manage the spaces and budgets that we use since precariousness but, in reality, they have motivations that are far from ours. Contemporary creation moves in terms and interests very different from those of the political pace. We need long-term plans and professional criteria to decide and develop them, while the ruling class still wants to control the contents of cultural institutions so that they become spokespersons for the ideology of the party in power. Meanwhile, we, the palace jesters, endow them with “controlled cultural offer”: they see us as necessary (and needy) programmers who go through (almost) all the hoops because of that hardship situation. A situation imposed by the rulers that manage to dissociate us as a sector, causing us to accept works that do not comply with the deontology that, in social networks and other forums, we all defend (but that we do not always apply).

 

We know that the cultural sector maintains its almost inherent precariousness even though we are experiencing an extraordinary period of artistic hatching. Artists reinvent themselves and strive to continue creating. Do you think there has also been an evolution in public perception when approaching contemporary art? What can art fairs do in this approach to the general public?

The processes in contemporary creation always have to do with the society that welcomes them and the changes it experiences. The public (but also the artists), while having access to more media and information, appear overwhelmed by this same excess. We all have a concentration defect, it is harder for us to pay attention, time, effort, depth, especially when our role is that of the public. As we have said before, there is only one solution, an answer that, after so much repetition, is becoming harmless, empty of content: we need education, establish pedagogies and intermediations that generate a critical and cultured mass, that makes us evolve towards a society interested in current creation.

 

The work of a curator is primarily to generate discourse and content around creation to raise issues open to society. Many contemporary artists have reoriented their lines of work towards more reflective projects where the discourse has a priority charge in the work. How is this tension channelled between the reflexive impulse of contemporary creation and the pressing lack of time and the super information that the individual lives in the society of our time?

That situation can be a stimulus. Artists are intellectuals sensitive to everything around them. However, in most cases, this lack of time, basically the result of our professional precariousness, and that over information, ends up being more a problem than a means or motivation. There are many artistic careers that are buried under this precariousness of excess.

 

What do you think are the common lines that young artists are developing in the process of growth?

The truth is that there are multiple differentiated lines of research, many of them very stimulating. In line with the last questions of our conversation, I can tell you that I am interested, among other topics, in those artists who are referring to their own work, to the creator's own professional performance, to their economic, social and work situation, to the consideration of themselves and their work. A self-reference that is becoming a very accurate, tragic, ironic expression of the situation of culture in general and of the visual arts in particular. On this, I am preparing a project entitled “The sterile works” that will be presented next year at La Regenta of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the participation of artists such as Verónica Ruth Frías, Cristina Garrido, Cyro García, Núria Güell, Nauzet Mayor, Adrián Martínez, Eugenio Merino, Rosell Meseguer, PSJM, Avelino Sala, Amparo Sard, Pelayo Varela and Marcelo Viquez.