Bruce Nauman at NoguerasBlanchard
Bruce Nauman at NoguerasBlanchard
“Violent Incident” by Bruce Nauman, in the exhibition “On affection: Cally Spooner and Bruce Nauman” NoguerasBlanchard, Barcelona
From January, 28 until March, 10, 2017
|Drawing | Composition of 6 drawings, mixed media on paper, framed in plexiglass vitrine and table (optional)|
|85 x 100 x 75 cm|
These are drawings done with a pencil, at once defined and unconcluded: a practice, that of drawing, which for Dauder is a parallel process, often on the fringes of the larger finished pieces. Drawing is a more primary exercise, out of which latent or buried aspects arise and are released. Drawing is experienced as an activity that is necessary for the creative process to take its course, to order impulses, to distil and visualize, from close to and from a distance, to study and reflect, even if the resulting compositions often have no specific function or destination. Some drawings are spontaneous and fast, others slow and worked on in different phases.
In the last analysis, the mystery posed by these drawings is the ability of the artist’s hand to be a channel of transmission and a translator of retinal impressions, of traces of memory, of the unequal accumulation of memories. By means of drawing, these elements may surface again in new configurations, transformed by their more or less prolonged passage through the neuronal circuits. New figures and images emerge, which in turn feed new cycles of perceptual impressions and assimilations traces that will be translated into who knows what new configurations by the hands of who knows what other artist. The fact is that when all is said and done we are pieces in a great chain of transmission of which the drawing is an occasional record, a link that fixes an instant of this tireless dynamism.
Patricia Dauder trained as an artist in Barcelona and Holland in the 1990s. Since then, her practice has evolved coherently in the fields of drawing, sculpture, film and the artist’s book and, to a lesser extent, photography. Her pieces are the result of slow and intuitive working processes, in which formal exploration guided by intuition and chance plays a significant part. The concept of montage is also of central importance to Dauder: her pieces often end up adopting a composite form, as sets of several elements that are closely related to one another.
Although many of Dauder’s works have as their starting point the observation of her real immediate physical environment, it often happens that, in the course of the creative process, the figurative often retreats almost to the point of disappearing, becoming a mere trace or a barely perceptible trail. And, in her practice, the idea of “trace” is linked to depth, a recurring element that Dauder explores through methods such as layering, surface scraping and the emptying out of volumes. Similarly, in her film works and in her books, the temporal dimension marked by the rhythm of contemplation which these formats demand becomes an element of exploration, through which Dauder effectively expands the meaning potential of her pieces.
Acciones en Mataró (Actions in Mataró), 2002
18 x 13 cm
The project Acciones en Mataró / Actions in Mataró (2003) by David Bestué and Marc Vives has a significant place in their career, in that it generated a methodology and an aesthetic attitude that marks the beginning and development of their work together up to 2012.
The two artists’ relationship, which dates from their time at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Barcelona, was consolidated in Olla de Grills / Potful of Crickets (2002), a noisy, not to say chaotic presentation superintended by Marta Darder as an end-of-year project for the Art Criticism course.
At that time, the two artists set out to rethink all they had read about the art world and their own personal myths in the context of the culture of the nineteen nineties. The influence of figures such as Gabriel Orozco and Félix González Torres and their fascination with the actions of Fischli & Weiss, with the souvenirs of Carlos Pazos, with Situationist practices or with the potential of the Theatre of the Absurd supplied the critical mechanisms with which to lay the foundations of an aesthetic personality that could evolve without losing the initial attitude: art is not an antidote to the truth, but a provisional resource of return to meaning, in David Bestué’s words.
Actions in Mataró initiated a model of production based on the carrying out and recording of actions, in this case in the street, in the form of minimal ephemeral interventions in and on benches, windows, doors or points in the urban fabric. In all of them there is a narrative about personal mythology and uncontrolled subjectivities. The actions are not visual statements or messages in the unidirectional and semiotically straightforward sense of the term, nor are they interpretations, understood as subsidiary forms of truth; still less are they axioms of or for nothing. The narrative strategy posits two speeds of reading, setting out from an apparently ingenuous gesture to arrive in the sum of its moments at a more complex hypothesis: is art an everyday experience and life an alienated experience? Intuitive and sceptical in manner, deploying the strategy of irony and underpinned by the power of ridicule, the actions are breviaries of their relations with art, the city, sexuality, myths, perversions or enigmas.
The evolution of the actions is effected between chance and reflection but they are never spontaneous gestures. Actions in Mataró amounts to a rereading of the public space from its own particular imaginary. The process involves the design of each intervention, an action and its visual archive. Nothing here is facile or random. Finally, the sum of times and places constructs a project in various formats: action, photography and publication. This structure, with the addition of the video format, will be continued in subsequent chapters of the actions in the home, the body and the universe.
In the dérive between personal moments and social models, the actions take place in a continuous present, which the artists visualize without resorting to grand gestures. The characteristic scenario of precariousness combines with the economy of means to invite speculation, never any affirmation of order. It should be noted that in the project carried out in Mataró there was an unmediated relationship with the public, who in some cases took part in the actions, and also that the first presentation of the project was in an unofficial venue, the studio of the artist Ita Puig, by way of the ACM association, which invited the artists to take part in the Visions de Futur / Future Visions event. The subsequent publication is a joint-venture non-commercial project with the Fundació 30 km/s.
Actions in Mataró is a preliminary exploration of the concept of the spectacle that the artists have gone on to develop in other works. Taking fiction as a paradigm and everyday situations and objects that tend to go unnoticed because they are so routine and banal as the starting point, the artists merge formalization and play with language in a scenographic recreation of the city.
Un segundo de horizonte (One second of Horizon), 2010
Installation | Laser line 360 degrees
With One Second of Horizon Wilfredo Prieto initiated a series of pieces in which he explored the genre of landscape from his own perspective. It was the centrepiece of the exhibition Negro, Mate, Seco/Black, Matte, Dry, presented at the Nogueras Blanchard gallery in Barcelona in 2009. On entering the space we found various objects that could be used in the construction industry: a flashlight, a helmet, a match or a level. It is this last element that produces One Second of Horizon — a laser line of 360° that is traced on the walls of the exhibition space, evoking an evening landscape, and embracing all of the other pieces. As people entered and walked around the space, there would be a moment when the laser hit them in the eyes and dazzled them, creating a parallel with that second in which we observe the rising or setting sun.
The laser level is set up in plain view, at random. The artist recreates a symbolic landscape that is also an environment which places the audience in a work setting, in an ‘in pass’ between the previous action and an action yet to come. It feels as if something has been left half done, or something is about to begin. As in much of Prieto’s work, the poetic play arises from the conceptual shock produced by juxtaposing two radically different realities. On the basis of construction materials and their positioning in the space and the viewer’s reading of these a landscape is created. It could be said that one of the basic elements of Prieto’s approach is the imagination, used as a driving force of creation and as a spring through which the eloquence of the gesture generates new moments and spaces. By way of these minimal gestures of maximum impact Prieto generates new readings and unexpected interpretations that subtly break with the standardized and normative.
As in most of his works, the artist here assumes the role of an observer of reality, an explorer and researcher of the everyday, his function reduced almost to pointing out and highlight certain aspects of the world, modifying their significance by means of small gestures that dislocate the perspective of reason. Prieto seems to intervene less and less in his work, in order to leave more room for the viewer. Since this work, Prieto has continued to explore the landscape tradition with works such as Constructivist and Deconstructivist Meadow Seen from the Sofa at Home with One’s Feet on the Table or Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, both from 2011. In these works he is once again in the realms of those personal landscapes fashioned from everyday objects taken out of context, which prompt us to imagine possible new scenarios.
(Sancti Spíritus, Cuba, 1978)
Wilfredo Prieto’s work moves along intersecting paths that draw from various artistic traditions of the last few decades such as Minimalism, Arte Povera and Conceptual Art, but take these into a realm that is all his own. By means of minimal gestures and the use of everyday materials, Prieto engages acutely and poetically with complex aspects of contemporary reality. His projects may be realized as tiny sculptures or as large installations — often deployed on the floor of the exhibition space — which characteristically make a strong impression on the viewer and set us to reflecting on subjects such as courage, desire, consumerism, power relations and the impact of economic and political fluctuations, issues that go beyond the immediately contextual to point to questions of a philosophical and global nature.
In his practice, the artist is a kind of observer of reality, an explorer and investigator of the everyday whose function is reduced almost to pointing out and highlight certain aspects of the world, modifying their significance by means of small gestures that dislocate the perspective of reason and suggest new readings. Over and above accumulating objects in the studio, the dynamic is centred on observing reality and identifying spaces and objects that have the capacity to generate alternative reading. Our expectations as viewers are brought into play, and we take on an active role through our ability to read, understand and relate. We go home in meditative mood, aware that in this small displacement of the real something has occurred that leaves us feeling uneasy. Prieto’s is an art that can be read quickly but must be digested slowly.
Für Elise de Ludwig van Beethoven en orden de tono
(Für Elise by Ludwig Van Beethoven in Tone Order), 2009
|Video installation | Video and framed score|
|Video: 5’59” Score: 29.7 x 84 cm|
A framed sheet of blank music paper. Next to it a screen. Minimalist rigour. In a perfectly photographed static shot, a tail-coated pianist takes his seat and begins to play. The notes develop a linear crescendo in which there is no very clear distinction between cadence and stridency, in a kind of progressive singsong. Although we follow the movement of the pianist’s hands and arms, the audio imposes itself on the static spectrum of the visual, making the ultimately captivating absence of acoustic harmony a kind of ridiculous challenge to the connotations of sobriety offered by the images.
What is the meaning of all this? To answer the question we need only turn to the title: Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven in Order of Pitch. It is not, then, a case of simply wrecking the tune of the famous piece, or of discrediting the rigour of the performance that is automatically associated with the culture to which the composer belongs, which would seem to be endorsed by the knowing gesture of putting the credits in German. These are side effects — touches of irony that are deployed naturally, as an added value — in the exercises in reordering the world to be found in the works produced by Daniel Jacoby between 2007 and 2009.
In his obsessive analysis and questioning of the logics of information and the hierarchies that govern what we consider to be real, Jacoby spent the early part of his artistic career to applying the systems of measurement of science to other spheres linked to everyday life, the media or specific work contexts. By making hypothetically futile applications of strict methodologies in seemingly capricious scenarios he lays bare the relativity of the modes of reading and cataloguing with which we set out to engage with certain aspects of existence.
With a tone that is more playful than otherwise, with the rigour of a researcher, often working with people from other creative or scientific fields, and inspired by a minimalist aesthetic and ethic which he leavens with a good deal irony, Jacoby approaches reality from odd angles, decontextualizing the elements he uses from their internal logic, stretching their parameters to new possible meanings or simply to nonsense.
A print publication with the weather forecast for 20 February for the next hundred years in Mollet del Vallès; a sound piece with the 79 instances of the word ‘you’ on the Beatles album Abbey Road; a video with the 271 instances of the word ‘no’ in the film A Clockwork Orange; another video with all the words of the first ten minutes of a public speech by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in alphabetical order; a shop window with graphs charting the chromatic breakdown of the covers of the four largest-circulation Spanish newspapers over one month; a metric calculation of the size of the concepts of large and small, or the rearranging by height of all the books in a library are among the most iconic works of this process.
Together with A Toblerone of Exactly 50 g 491 Toblerones of Approximately 50 g — in which an exhaustive comparative study was conducted to find the chocolate bar with the exact weight indicated on the packaging was followed up by an exhibition, a print publication and the handing out of free Toblerones — Für Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven in Order of Pitch represents the coming to full artistic maturity of the series of works that constitute the first stage in Daniel Jacoby’s oeuvre. This conclusion of a stage is also a turning point, prior to the methodological bootlegging between the verifiable and the speculative made way for the narrativity that has oriented his projects since then.
Inspection of the Feed-House, 2005
|Drawing | Watercolor on paper|
|37 x 29 cm|
Jesper Dalgaard uses drawing, film and sculpture to create alternative worlds, imaginary scenes that project the hopes and uncertainty of life. His work is quirky and humorous, yet it always presents us with a nucleus of truth, inviting us to reflect upon the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour.
Dalgaard’s work in the collection includes nine small-format watercolours on paper, and an animated film, all from 2005. The work shares a similar technique, with awkwardly rendered dark figures placed over landscapes or interiors washed with soft colour tones. Both the drawings and film feature a naive style that is typical of Dalgaard’s work, where people, objects or trees are drawn in a deliberately “amateurish” style reminiscent of underground comic and illustration.
The five-minute animated film Helen Vejen runt og tilbage igen (All the Way Round and Back Again) depicts the rise and fall of an aspiring artist, as he comes through creative angst and insecurity into fame and riches, only to slip back again into personal oblivion. While set in some distant future reality, with robots serving drinks at a gallery opening and the characters driving flying cars, the film reflects on contemporary issues: professional success, personal ego, artistic integrity, and the ability to manage in the world. Dalgaard portrays humans as black stick figures, as a young child might, with few features to distinguish one individual from the next.
Before the contemporary era naive illustration was the domain of amateur artists who lacked the representational skills of professional painters. This changed with the emergence of pop art, which drew inspiration from subject matter and drawing styles from the world of comics and popular illustration. Through comics, and especially the underground scene, which shunned any pretence of quality draughtsmanship, naive figurative representation made its way into the discourse of contemporary art. This also meant for new forms of content, as artists used naive illustration to convey off-beat, unusual and even radical ideas about society.
Dalgaard’s small watercolours express this vividly. A troubling image of a woman lying on a table, The Nooks and Corners of One’s Dreams, has speech balloons projecting her oddest imaginations, some absurdly futuristic. In another one citing comic language, Friends on the Surface, two figures meet at a party over drinks, and the speech balloons around them express everything they imagine about their relationship, all in tiny drawings. In The Kiss two black stick figures with blobs for heads “kiss” over a blue horizon, while in the complementary The Kiss, Jealousy, the gesture is repeated over a red backdrop, while a smaller “child” figure tugs at them, annoyed at being left out.
This is the way Dalgaard’s art works. His representational values are disarmingly simple, yet through them he digs deeply into how people tick. He will even comment on our condition in images without human presence, as with the watercolours of trees lining a path or marking out geometries. With these watercolours Dalgaard evokes lonely landscapes, longing anxiously to be occupied by a willing and inquisitive subject.
Antoni Abad was born in Lleida in 1956 and is a History of Art graduate from the University of Barcelona. After creating a series of large-scale, interwoven paintings that were midway between painting and sculpture, he went on to produce sculptures in foam rubber in 1985, which he made public the following year at the Espai 10 Gallery of the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. Since then his work has evolved, both in the use of new materials (such as components of mecalux (metal shelving systems) and tape measures) and, following his interest in new media, into the world of video and Net-Art in 1995. This was succeeded from 2004 onwards by the use of mobile phones as creative and communicative tools, culminating in an onsite work entitled *TAXI in collaboration with taxi drivers from Mexico City. He continued this work the following year with the Gypsy communities of Lleida and Leon, as well as further collaborations with other communities in Madrid, Barcelona, San José de Costa Rica and Sao Paulo. These projects can be followed on the web page www.zexe.net. These latest projects have won him numerous awards, such as the National Visual Arts Prize 2006, awarded by the Government of Catalonia, and the Electronic Ars Festival in Linz the same year.
The Brazilian artist Vik Muniz (Sao Paulo, 1961) became known on the international art scene at almost the same time that he was recognised as an emerging artist in his own country, in the mid eighties. This coincidence between his own artistic task and the air du temps of a decade as expressionist as the last but one of the last century largely contributed to the rapid rise of his renown as a artist of international prestige. Those postmodern times, we insist, worked in his favour. His work knew perfectly how to engage, in equal measure, with History and the Market.
A great expert on the history of art and highly sensitive and intelligent in his decoding and deconstruction, Muniz has engaged with Géricault, Goya or Rembrandt, but also with the much quoted Duchamp, or the less familiar David Smith or Richard Serra, not forgetting to pervert certain 20th century icons like Che Guevara, a genuine “touchstone” in the years of his most impulsive media fame, whom he used to recreate by means of a system as infrequent as using chocolate to represent the image of the Cuban-Argentinian leader in different forms. He is the creator of innumerable series on a range of motifs, all of which have a common denominator: he first stages the “expressive action” like a theatrical model and then, after a long, laborious process of composition, proceeds to photograph, almost always in large formats, what he has created as a “staging of passion”. The result is the photographs of the photographer Vik Muniz.
Luis Francisco Pérez
Joan Fontcuberta (Barcelona, 1955) is a photographer and theorist of photography, and also an essayist, editor, curator and teacher, with a body of interdisciplinary work that explores the boundaries between reality and fiction and the manipulation of images, and extends beyond the realms of photography itself to take in aspects of sociology, politics and economics. He studied Information Sciences at the UAB and has taught in the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Barcelona (where he was involved in setting up the Department of Photography, Cinema and Video), at Pompeu Fabra University and at Harvard University. He was one of the prime movers behind Barcelona’s Primavera Fotogràfica photography festival, a member of the editorial board of the magazine Nueva Lenteand co-founder and editor-in-chief of Photovision. He has exhibited his works around the world, at MACBA and MNAC in Barcelona, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, MoMA in New York, and elsewhere. As a photographer he has been recognized with the prestigious Hasselblad Award in 2013 and the Premio Nacional de Fotografia in 1998, among others, and as an essayist he has published books such as Pandora’s Camera (Premio Nacional de Ensayo 2011) and La furia de las imágenes [The Fury of the Images], which won the Premi Ciutat de Barcelona award for Social Sciences and Humanities 2016.
In a way, Alicia Framis’ work is a fable. Starting from a very specific observation of her surroundings she tells stories with a real base and a fictitious development that show up some of the flaws of modern society, for which she tries to find a solution, undoubtedly involving an indirect ethical lesson. This investigation into the world around her has evolved from the private in the works of the 90s such as Cinema Solo or Dreamkeeper to the social in series like Anti-dog or Secret Strike. In all cases her projects follow a recognisable schema: a living documentary investigation of a series of conflicts which human beings (often, but not exclusively, women) face in an individualistic contemporary society which overprotects itself from the other. From there she decides to provide practical solutions to the problem. Everything begins with an idea and ends up becoming a plan, a complex project through which she approaches the same problem from different viewpoints and to which she eventually tries to offer solutions. In that way her works end up being organised in corpora of meaning that define a specific problem, whether loneliness, fear of aggression, the need to be loved or alienation.
Dora García’s work is strongly characterized by the involvement of its viewers, who are urged to take a stand on ethically contentious questions, to commit themselves to a closer examination of these matters and to reflect on the institutional nature of the setting in which their encounter with works of art takes place.
Hers is a practice based on research, and one that focuses on subjects which recur and are woven into the whole fabric of her production, such as the interest in the history of anti-institutional movements (with particular attention to anti-psychiatry), the figure of the artist as outsider and mechanisms of communication, whether linguistic or not. These subjects are not explained to the viewer, but laid out with an attitude that verges on a challenge: documents, ambiguous reenactments in performances, lectures and talks, videos and books are presented in the exhibition space as archives, sophisticated sets of references, reworkings. Viewers have to choose their own key of interpretation, decide what attitude to take, the degree of interaction they wish to have with the work. Or remain impervious to the provocation of an enigmatic theme, ambiguously presented in such a way as to make people think. As a complement to this total openness of interpretation, García prepares a series of instruments, often in the form of websites, to share her sources with viewers, to inform them about her projects and keep them up to date on their development and to get to know their opinions and reactions through blogs and social networks.
Bern and Hilla Becher
The importance of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher has to do not only with their artistic activity but most of all with their teaching at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. Bernd (Siegen,1931) and Hilla (Postdam, 1934 – 2015) Becher met when they were students of painting in Düsseldorf. In 1959 they did their first photographic work together. As teachers, they have influenced the new generations of German artists, including some of the outstanding names who have redefined photographic creation, such as Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höffer or Thomas Struth.
Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs document industrial landscapes which are in the process of disappearing through deserted factories, water towers or gasometers, which are shown in isolation. They base their work on typologies and approach the different motifs almost like a clinical dissection, which finds its closest antecedent in the anthropological documentations made during the period of the Weimar Republic by August Sander. With their photographs the Bechers show a past which, unlike the present, they can control and order through their compositions. These works, which they have been doing since the fifties, have been regarded as the supreme model of conceptual art in photography.
Their work has been shown at Documenta 5 (1972), 6 (1977) and 11 (2002), as well as the São Paulo Biennial (1977). They have received many awards, among them the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1990.