ON SHEEP AND SUBTLETIES

The antiques dealer Ramón Portuondo has recently stated that his decision to gather together in his exhibition place such a group of eclectic artists whose work resists any classification comes mainly from his particular taste for rarity—not so much in its sense of strange but in that of special and infrequent- as well as from his determination to gauge the feeling of his time, paying attention to the necessarily fluctuating demands, in this “liquid modernity” (Z. Bauman), on the part of both artists and beauty and culture devotees.

After the conclusion of the poignant exhibition of the Canadian outsider Étienne Zack, with whom the antiques dealer-gallerist embarked on this new venture, the work of other singular artist, Nuria Alcaraz (Catellón de la Plana, 1965) comes to the art scene located at Álvarez de Baena St. . Her work, like Zack’s, was displayed some years ago in the celebrated Marina Miranda Art Gallery.

On that occasion Maurizio Lanzillotta, painter of mirages, of impossible conjunctions and coincidences and a mentor to the artist, wrote something about her “sheep that disturb our rest”, her “friends playing chess telepathically” or those ones that “turn us into dream slaves” (La Oveja Masoquista) and concluded that such a dream is that of “a quiet sheep that smoked a pipe while counting smoke-like men jumping a fence”. Now this is an oeniric and bizarre imaginarium with surrealistic roots and branches of irony where humanized sheep –and sheep-like men too- melt into a landscape made form common objects and images reshaped and transformed by the artist.

In fact, the feature that best defines her latest production might well be her research on issues of unity and discontinuity on the pictorial surface; that same mixture of what Hoffmann referred to as “layers of reality”, typical of Proto-Renaissance art -where different drawings, precious objects, relics, disparate substances and materials, “realities”, connotations and suggestions coexisted as a whole- recovered by cubist collage to give birth to modern art.

Accordingly, in both the series of paintings dedicated to the sheep and in those more abstract ones that focus on the feminine emotional map where mineral, plant and symbolic elements hybridize to build some strange and unidentifiable condensed entities, background and figure tend to make up a single continuous surface where apparently incompatible signs, icons, forms and textures live together.

This coexistence of realities is that provides her work with that stirring and contemporary temperament: postmodernism and hybridization, sure, but also a lucid perception that the collapse of modernity after the end of history (Fukuyama) requires a total reconstruction from the individual. On the other hand, that artistic discipline, as it can be observed in the careful, almost obsessively meticulous execution of her paintings; in fact the expression of a fresh making free from worn out formulas or, in other words, of an original being that transcends old conflicts integrating into its new hybrid body –technological, organic, photographic, synthetic- that vast mesh of disjointed stories that we call world.

 Translated from the original (Rubio Nomblot, Javier. “De Ovejas y Sutilezas”. Madrid Feb. 2011) by Natalia Alcaraz.

 

WOMEN

Different reasons, mainly cultural, didactic or commercial, serve to justify an art exhibition doing so from a present perspective. On the one hand, there are some major exhibitions that review and analyse relative recent movements; rather an exclusive privilege of great museums or foundations and hardly ever of art galleries. On the other, the cultural manoeuvres on the part of those glamorous curators, that is, critics who, when they have good sense, back new artistic movements on the basis of an original or refashioned trend (the Young British Artists or the Italian Transavantgarde are two significant instances in the last decades). Finally, we all know about typical collective exhibitions that usually gather together groups of artists who gravitate around the same space.

That is the case of this exhibition that congregates some disparate artists linked by a common denominator; they all are women. They are different artists in whom the gallerist was already interested some time ago. Some of them are well-known artists and their names are closely related to the gallery, some have exhibited their work in different art spaces and others are new talents who make their first appearance at Marina Miranda´s.

María Marina was unwilling to postpone for one year or even longer this collective exhibition and although she was not even sure whether she would work regularly with all them she felt the curiosity and the need to get them together and show their poetic, ironical, acid and disparate works; in short, the need to let the world know about them as soon as possible.

Is womanhood reason enough to justify a collective exhibition? Bearing in mind that just a few decades ago (or rather we must say years) the amount of feminine names in modern and avant-garde art circles was a suspiciously insignificant number compared with that of men, we might well conclude that this is not only reason enough but also necessary. Moreover, when knowing in advance what is about to be displayed there we should think of it as advisable and suitable.

We will have the chance to admire the latest work of artists such us the renowned German artist Marion Thieme or Esther Mañas’ newest production just arrived from Helsinki where she is doing a MA in technology applied to art, the lyrical abstractions by Isabel Gómez Moreno, or the metaphysical urban landscapes by Carmen Gª Benavides and Mª Luisa Mendoza, photographic and pictorial respectively, that seem to converse in the middle of a promiscuous game speculating about a possible role reversal, the sublime cuts by Isabel G. Carnicer; the woman made from sensuality, pain and irony by the Colombian Mª Victoria García Borrero, the particular drawings by Carmen García Bartolomé (la griega), that tell us about the play between love and pain in the child-like woman or the woman-like child, and finally, some surprising and never-before-seen paintings by Nuria Alcaraz, her tacky sheep, in her own words, that disturb our rest, her friends playing chess telepathically and the masochistic sheep that turns us into dream slaves, slaves of that dream of a quiet sheep that smoked a pipe while counting smoke-like men jumping a fence.

Translated from the original (Lanzillotta, Maurizio. “Mujeres”. Madrid May 2005) by Natalia Alcaraz.