Paradoxes refer to situations or reasonings that escape the logic of common sense, producing an effect of contradiction and uncertainty that our subconscious rejects as true. Art has also worried about this issue and some creators have wanted to deceive our senses with impossible images and visual tricks. The success, in these cases, is that the resulting works are perfectly real, but the ideas expressed are implausible and oblige us to pay special attention to what we see.

Escher, “Ascending and Descending”, 1960

The games of perspectives and the optical illusions feed on the schemes that our mind has, after years of observation and interaction with the environment. We tend to classify the things that we see within the patterns of normality and frequency that our senses dictate to us. Thus, if we analyse a cube-like shape, our brain reconstructs the faces we do not see to create a mental image of the figure. It is precisely these mechanisms what allow visual paradoxes, impossible perspectives and false appearances.

Anamorphic Art by István Orosz

This is also an extensive field of expression for mathematical calculation and geometric games. In many of these riddles, there is an imperceptible trap that deceives our reason and prevents us from seeing reality. Nothing is what it seems. And our logic is not used to being confused with pranks and tricks. However, this may be a good boost to promote alternative thinking and force us to face things from new points of view.

Frame from “Inception”, by Christopher Nolan, 2010

Although the use of these resources seems more typical of the traditional circus and magic, conceived to distort reality, it is still an element of deep impact that, when used cleverly, produces a great effect. So did Christopher Nolan in the film Inception, where the protagonists had to work out their imagination to create visual labyrinths from which to flee when needed; like the circular stairs that rise infinitely, something, obviously, impossible.

Paradoxical Art Sculptures By Nancy Fouts

Escher has largely worked this idea. His work is full of visual games that confuse the viewer and that defy the laws of gravity and our (predictable and known) three-dimensional space. That is the advantage of drawing, which allows to depict these optical illusions without any limitation on paper. Other artists explore the field of conceptual paradoxes, and create pieces with opposing ideas in artworks that often hide a humorous reading of reality, because contradictions also serve for that (what, if not, irony or sarcasm are?). A true gift for the senses.


The cultural agenda gradually recovers after the health-crisis halt and art lovers are eager to enjoy the rich cultural offer that the different spaces and museums throughout our geography have to offer. In addition, one must remember that these centres have made an enormous effort to adapt to the demands that the new situation imposes and have created abundant online-accessible content to overcome confinement. We bring you a selection of content that can be visited both in person and through the web. There is no excuse for not enjoying contemporary art again.

Olafur Eliasson, “En la vida real (In real life)”, 2019

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao continues with its exhibition dedicated to Olafur Eliasson and offers numerous resources to understand not only the exhibition but also the work of the centre in the assembly and installation process. The website allows us to expand content with interviews with the artist, the download of the audio guide and the vision of the curator Lucía Aguirre, who offers us different video-pills on the pieces in the exhibition.

"Olafur Eliasson: in real life" brings together a part of this artist's work since 1990 through sculptures, photographs, paintings and installations that play with reflections and colours. Likewise, the integration of elements such as moss, water, ice, fog... put the visitor in a situation that confuses the senses and tries to challenge the way we perceive our environment and move in it.

Regina de Miguel, “Isla Decepción”, 2017

The Botín Centre in Santander hosts the exhibition "Collecting processes: 25 years of Itineraries" which brings together the work of 25 of the 210 scholarship recipients who, to date, have enjoyed the Botín Foundation Plastic Arts Scholarship, started in 1993. With the works Lara Almárcegui, Basma Alsharif, Leonor Antunes, Javier Arce, Erick Beltrán, David Bestué, Bleda and Rosa, Nuno Cera, Patricia Dauder, Patricia Esquivias, Karlos Gil, Carlos Irijalba, Adrià Julià, Juan López, Rogelio López Cuenca, Renata Lucas, Mateo Maté, Jorge Méndez Blake, Regina de Miguel, Leticia Ramos, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Teresa Solar Abboud, Leonor Serrano Rivas, Jorge Yeregui, David Zink-Yi, the exhibition is a good example of up-to-date and young contemporary art contributed by artists with very diverse profiles.

Clemente Bernad. Series “Ante el umbral”, Madrid, 2020

The Reina Sofía Museum wanted to create a visual chronicle of what the confinement and the tragic numbers of infected and deceased have meant for the lives of many of us: a tale of pain, nostalgia and uncertainty made by the photographer Clemente Bernad. This exhibition, curated by Jorge Moreno Andrés, is entitled “Before the threshold”, a title that expresses the strange sensation that occurs when faced with something new and unknown, something that we cannot control or avoid, and that we all must go through. The alteration imposed on our lives unexpectedly is reflected in the streets, transformed into places of solitude and abandonment where life has been paralysed.

Mario Merz / No title, Triplo Igloo, 1984 MAXXI Collection

At the IVAM, the exhibition "What is our home?" brings together works from the IVAM collection and the MAXXI centre in Rome to propose a reflection on the space we inhabit seen from a personal and social perspective. It is about investigating the value that these spaces have as a home or refuge, as well as part of a city or community.

The exhibition, curated by José Miguel G. Cortés, also wants to delve into the feeling of those who feel like foreigners anywhere, because they do not identify with the habits or customs of the society, they do not fit into these social patterns, and home becomes the only shelter space that can adapt to their identity needs.

Martha Rosler, frame from “Backyard Economy I-II”, 1974 © Courtesy of Martha Rosler, 2020

Es Baluard Museu is committed to video creation and performance and hosts the monographic exhibition “Martha Rosler. How do we get there from here?” dedicated to this New York artist who pioneered the use of video as a mechanism for social and political analysis. This exhibition includes various works, from video to photography and several publications, which synthesise her main lines of discourse. Her concern for public policies and the social equality of women has led her to actively participate in numerous social movements in La Havana, New York, Mexico DC or Barcelona, and these experiences are present in one way or another in her work.

With the curatorship of Inma Prieto, a selection has been made within the abundant production of this artist, which presents one of the most coherent careers in towards-the-new-Millenium contemporary art.

Image from file, via

The MEIAC - Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo, host the works of the prestigious international digital art archive "Turbulence", a platform dedicated to network and hybrid art. In view of the inevitable closure of this institution, the MEIAC has offered to host all this valuable content collected since 1996. The uploading of the file also served as an opportunity to restore numerous pieces and convert formats so that files that had become obsolete remain readable by new systems. A huge job of conservation and updating that can be enjoyed online today. The archive is made up of hundreds of digital works from around the world that can now be visited remotely.