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Ignasi Aballí

Paper Moneda (Paper Currency), 2008

Painting | 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 euros and mixtured of paper currency
50 x 50 cm (x8)
The banknotes are etchings, representations. They do not, of course, stake any artistic claims, but they do contain images. Austrian artist Robert Kalina drew the doors and windows on the back and the bridges on the front of the €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 banknotes. With the creation of this artwork, Ignasi Aballí has performed an iconoclastic operation that would constitute a crime in some countries and generates a sense of unease elsewhere. Even though he did not destroy them himself, the shredded banknotes were supplied by the Bank of Spain. The only thing left of the image is colour, “tarnished” due to the material and through use, and the iron cases containing the shreddings become monochromes of minimalist extraction, in appearance at least. This series picks up on an earlier artwork going by the same title, created in 1992, with the main difference being that in the 16-year gap the Peseta has been replaced by the Euro (which, by the way, involved the destruction of an incredible amount of paper money). In this regard, it is worth highlighting the fact that one of the most outstanding features of Aballí’s work is coherence. Almost all of his projects are inter-related, and perhaps a self-referential intention can be deduced from his oeuvre. And this multiple painting-sculpture alludes to several of the artist’s idiosyncratic plastic and conceptual themes. The first and most obvious one is the chromatic theme. Cal Cego’s own collection includes a number of examples of coloured letters that Aballí has created with a dual visual message: colour on the one hand, and the language of his descriptions or variations on the other. Another recurring theme is the practice of making things hard to see; he has placed different types of “screens” on several of his artworks and he has made images disappear, causing a reality/artwork recognition dilemma. Shaping artworks through the accumulation of one type of material is another of the strategies that resurfaces here, along the lines of the paradigmatic dust piles “Pols” (“Dust”) or the remains of “Matèria tèxtil” (“Fabric”), also at Cal Cego, which also produce visual surfaces that are both simple and very complex. The factor of time (the time needed to produce or gather the raw materials for certain artworks), though not quite as evident, can be found in the period when the banknotes were in circulation and in the signs of them being handled, all of which is also shredded and incorporated into his work. Finally, moving on from process to lines of thought, “Paper Money” is related to a set of artworks called “Llistat (diners)” (“List (money)”), in which denominations and currencies follow on from each other like a consumer society chant in another type of accumulative process. Along with these lists, “Paper Money” was exhibited at the headquarters of the Bank of Spain in Madrid (2009) to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the Euro in Spain.

Elena Vozmediano