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ART AND SHOW BUSINESS: JAIME LORENTE AT EGAM

Posted on January 9, 2013 by Emilia Garcia Romeu

Quite often the art world behaves like show business, falling for the star of the moment while condemning yesterday’s promises to obsolescence, even if their work is not obsolete. And it seems at least paradoxical that just when artists have reached their maturity and developed a language of their own, they hardly ever get solo shows and are usually excluded from group exhibitions; they literally disappear from the public eye.  Despite their ostracism, many of these artists, now in their forties and fifties, are not only alive but also kicking and making very interesting work, probably the best in their career. This is the case of Jaime Lorente, on view at Egam (Madrid) this Fall.  His first works, from the 1980s, were dark, thick paintings echoing artists such as Enzo Cucchi and Anselm Kiefer. Along the way, however, his palette got brighter and his brushstroke lighter, and although painting remained at the center of his practice, he started incorporating new techniques (photography, silkscreen, collage, photo-shop) and materials (mirrors, cork, glass).

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FAMILY COLOR, 1991

Posted on October 11, 2012 by Emilia Garcia Romeu

I first heard of Sally Mann (www.sallymann.com) by the mid-1990s, when I was at school in the U.S. At that time, she was famous for having outraged the general public with photographs of her own children. It was no small thing: Mann was accused of abusing her kids and even Artforum refused to publish her photographs. That’s why her name popped up in class every time we dealt with art, sexuality, and censorship.  In this controversy, I was ready to side with Mann: Both series, Immediate family (1984-1991) and Family color (1990-1991), portray her kids at absolute ease, wild in action and indolent when not, as lazy and comfortable in their own skins as cats in the sun. For me, there is such a distinctive atmosphere of intimacy and candor that obscenity (overexposure, exhibitionism, abuse) is simply out of the question. It is true that these children are depicted in extreme situations (i.e. injured and bleeding) and mostly naked, like savages in nature and culture, but that’s probably the beauty of it. Continue Reading →

CAMPO ADENTRO (INLAND)

Posted on September 5, 2012 by Emilia Garcia Romeu

For two months I have been collaborating with Campo Adentro [Inland]  “a cultural project in support of rural life,” comprising an international conference, a residency program, an exhibition, and a publication.

Though I am a bit suspicious of artists-working-with-the-community (the artist is generally the only one getting credit or profit while the community becomes a somehow blurry, anonymous backdrop for his/her ego-trip), I really liked Campo Adentro’s 2011 residency projects. They were, for the most part, insightful and direct, and had (thank God) no messianic goals. Despite their different in focus and character, they shared some key common notions. The main one is the fact that rural landscapes are culturally produced, that is, the result of interacting agents and activities (such as agriculture and stockbreeding) through time. Those agents and activities generate ways of living and seeing, as well as objects, words, gatherings, songs, and dances. No nature vs. culture but a hybrid of both. In this context, the function of the rural environment as a productive space is emphasized and claimed, as opposed to current policies directed at reducing it to leisure, pleasure, sight-seeing, and entertainment.

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dOCUMENTA (13)

Posted on August 20, 2012 by Emilia Garcia Romeu

I had heard that dOCUMENTA (13) was gigantic, confusing, and megalomaniac; that it was full of grief and suffering; and that it was the most commercial edition ever, for most works were financed by major international galleries. Although these statements might be partially true (the presence of big galleries is pervasive; the show certainly huge; and trauma ubiquitous), I just loved it. To me, this edition is an exciting, profound, and consistent reflection on the role of object in memory and history. And it works quite well. Despite its multiple venues, in Kassel, dOCUMENTA (13)‘s main exhibitions are held at the Friedricianum and the Hauptbahnhof (the old railway station).

Friedricianum

The show at the Friedricianum focuses on the presence and materiality of the (art) object, stressing qualities such as tactility, surface, and process, while propitiating an intimate relation vis á vis the beholder. The circumstances and conditions of creation of these objects are often quite extreme, so that they appear to have functioned (and maybe still do) as talismans or vehicles for processing unbearable experiences. Continue Reading →

INNER QUALITIES OF MATERIAL, CARLOS BUNGA

Posted on May 7, 2012 by Emilia Garcia Romeu

Carlos Bunga is best known for structures made of cardboard and packing tape: white constructions entirely covering the walls of the gallery, which, once built, are dissected to expose surfaces painted in bright colors. The origin of his work is in the street, the inspiration of this painter-cum- architect/sculptor, who began displaying his works on the walls of the city only to end up reconstructing or mimicking them inside galleries and museums. Bunga’s work has been included in exhibitions such as Unmonumental (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2007) or Low Key (Fundación Botín, Santander, 2008), featuring young artists who would rather work with their hands, precarious materials, and simple techniques (collage and assemblage) than succumb to the technological complexity and spectacular appearance of the art of the last decade. In the recent show of Bunga at galería elba benítez (Madrid), one is taken by a group of very light and beautiful sculptures on white pedestals. Continue Reading →