Nose Peak, 2015
|Publication | Artist’s book | One Star Press, Paris|
|38 x 31.5 x 10 cm|
|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.