Horror Vacui

By Marisol Salanova

To accumulate objects compulsively is the result of consumerism in a society of nomadic youth that studies and works in different places and that they have to roll their stuff frequently. Stacking belongings frequently becomes a drag and it is not easy the selection of items which are going with us on our journey. The only thing that clearly we always have to choose is clothing, light, useful and indispensable. Due to he hurried and precarious transport we leave behind garments that we give as a present or even abandon at airports where the weight limit forces us to the unexpected emptying of a suitcase that it will be examined later and also sealed with a thin plastic paper. It is a shell that surrounds our memories, wrinkled and messy clothes that, once relocated, we will fold and order mechanically, not thinking too much but with a whole conceptual charge behind, causing a lining up of colours ranges and suggestive textures that the artist Juan Carlos Rosa Casasola takes to the expositive field.

The loop of movings in wich himself has been immersed made him to think about the storage, the transience and recycling, underlying the idea of giving a new life to an object with whom we have had our history, to let it go and maybe to take part of the vital landscape of another person. As when a book travels into the hands of a new reader, clothes symbolize the flow of a cycle and a change of paradigm towards to consume less and to share more, giving a transcendental value to the object not leaving aside the aesthetic component. With an attractive display of colours and a cared harmony, the artist set out his own organization chart of storage from his own clothes, borrowed, donated, second-hand, of people of different professions, ages, origins and styles. The visual impact of his work intervening the Frax Fundation’s hall with drawings, photographs and sculptures urge to review the Aristotelian notion of the nature abhors the empty.

Inside Louis Vuitton Foundation

By Marisol Salanova

Museums, opera houses, and the like are generally considered to contain art but not being art in itself. At a time when the architecture has a lot of artistic is not easy to find harmony. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, unveiled by Frank Gehry in 1997, was a great example of that. But now on this issue all eyes are on Paris. Gehry was there now just a year ago with two new projects which are growing up: the long-awaited Fondation Louis Vuitton which looks like an urban sculpture including 11 gallery spaces spread over multiple levels with much of the Fondation’s permanent art collection, and a retrospective of his life's work at the Centre Pompidou.

Over the years many adjectives have been used to describe Gehry's creations, anything but ordinary. His living spaces are warmed by textures and organic reminiscences. The architect, as an artist, is itching to experiment, however creating a museum functionality is the focus. It needs space for the exhibitions, the visitors should be confortable and so on. Set in a public park in the Bois de Boulogne in the western part of Paris, the glass structure echoes 19th-century glass garden buildings with some maritime imagery. It’s part of an image overhaul of Louis Vuitton-Möet Hennessy (LVMH) so the relationship with fashion and art world is clear. This new captivating centre for contemporary art challenges and stimulates our perception of what an art gallery should be. The spaces are more dynamic than ever, in fact they can be used to house various cultural activities, not necessarily the traditional way of exhibiting art.

Relational Aesthetics has suggested that the artwork creates a social environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity. An inside look at the Louis Vuitton Foundation make us think about it. Gehry calls the rectangular blocks containing the gallery spaces “icebergs”, he designed that sort of icebergs trying to find a language for architecture that makes sense of movement in an era that's all about movement, and inside this icebergs is where everything happens: a Boltanski's triple video projection about life, death and memory, an amazing Pierre Huyghe's film with penguins, Thomas Schütte's giant sculpture of a quirky man, a hybrid between painting and sculpture by Bertrand Lavier or a grotto installation by Olafur Eliasson. And it's just getting started, highlights of the LVMH collection includes works by Gilbert & George, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons.

It should be emphasized that Ellsworth Kelly has created a specific, comprehensive and permanent intervention for the Auditorium consisting of 12 big coloured strips. Kelly's is the most photographed work by visitors to date, especially by smartphones in self-portrait mode, the front-facing camera selfie. According to Nicolas Bourriaud, relational art encompasses a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space. From the roof to the basement Fondation Louis Vuitton is an example of private institution that opens its doors to the participatory public sphere in a stimulating way.

There are relatively few private museums in France, and in building this one Bernard Arnault, Chairman & Chief executive officer of LVMH who's also a major collector, was hoping to reinforce a connection between his company and advanced art and design so he opted for Ghery to build the ideal place to display the luxury firm's collection. Art is inherently subjective as its interpretations are mostly based on the perspective of the viewer. It behooves us as viewers of art to interpret it with a critical eye, thinking carefully and crossing it because here the building itself is art and what it contains too.

*First time this article was published in Ivorypress magazine Turn On Art.

Attracted by Supernatural

By Marisol Salanova

It used to be that monsters were the spawn of nightmares but nowadays we can feel a change about it in pop culture, monsters are beautiful and fashionable. There are a lot of movies and tv programs with sexy supernatural characters. The cinematic figures that emerge are deeply riven with the histories of the representations of bodies, psychic pain, ego boungaries, wounds, and articulations. Now the supernatural is also influencing the art world.

 According to the concept of the “aesthetics of the ugly” in contemporary iconography beauty is not a measure of aesthetic merit so the beautiful excludes the ugly no more.

For arts marketers it’s no secret that the engagement models of yesterday are being cast off in favor of fresh, bold ideas closely with the latest trends. They are growing opportunities for weird art, pop surrealism is strong again even in a new better way. Museums, art centers, galleries, collectors and visitors know it and like it because it is exciting and very catchy, it would be foolish to ignore this tendency.

In fact from last year’s Halloween The Getty in Los Angeles offers a free audio tour for kids (and adults too) called “Demons, Angel and Monsters: The Supernatural in Art” which takes kids on a nefarious adventure that explores the creepy beings that can be found in the museum’s permanent collection. This is significant because the museums have assumed that creepy is attractive and we can find references to the supernatural in the art without rigid religious connotations. The issue is not religion as much as aesthetics and which suggests a work that appeals to the existence of a parallel universe or many of them.

Maybe guided by poet Boileau’s idea that “no monster exists that cannot be made pleasing through art” Spanish art collective Rubenimichi has created the painting series which the gallery Espai Tactel exhibited last year in Valencia titled “Sobrenatural”. Their work is focused on an invented, idealized and magical nature interacts with a human being creating a link between an unattainable world of dreams and the everyday reality; extrasensory experiences and disturbing characters hidden among the dense forest. Most of the people are afraid to enter the forest, forest is natural nevertheless it is a maze, a spooky place when gets dark, a magical piece of landscape made by nature for brave people. In this worldview the supernatural world is extremely close to the natural and mankind realms.

Mutant animals, dark selfportraits, hybridizations between humans and forest, this is what we find in a peculiar painting by young artists who gaining more and more importance in international markets because there are some collectors whom love supernatural art representations. To achieve that gloomy and mysterious aura Rubenimichi use acrylic in a particular way, with blurring and contrasting lights and shades, bearing always in mind the Flemish paintings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Pre-Raphaelites or the Romantic movement by passing our particular way of understanding art and life. Pain flees out ward toward imagination, from the dense matter of bodies to perception itself, presumably disembodied, floating outward.

People have been and will always be attracted by mysteries, surreal places, weird stories… Anyway grotesque images with sinister characters seems could be disturbing the public however that’s not happening. We are aware that for a long time there has been ambivalence towards these issues. It would be nice to think that today’s world has finally accepted that what makes us unique is what makes us beautiful, and that what’s different isn’t necessarily evil or strictly ugly. 

*First time this article was published in Ivorypress magazine Turn On Art.

Lovers in the digital age. Fernando Gimeno: Red Light

By Marisol Salanova

The world of techno-consumerism is troubled by love and it has no choice but to change the ways we fall in love, we live it and we split up. A related phenomenon is the transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb “to like” or the meaning of drawing a heart. Social media has been a great platform for self expression. The effects are manifested in new ways, more or less intense that “analog”. A real hug, a kiss, are replaced by a smiley. Some people have no consideration for other people’s feelings, it seems obvious that it is easier to pretend moods through social networks. Maybe that could be a risk of being unhealthy emotionally or are we becoming more emotionally intelligent through this expression?

“Does she loves me like yesterday?” – wondered the boy in front of his computer. –  “Are she still spending time thinking of me? She didn’t like any post on my wall for two days...”

Not being liked represents abandonment. Fernando Gimeno is a young Spanish artistworking in the field of art inspired by this topics. He developed a project for the cultural center La Llotgeta in Valencia, Spain, curated by Nilo Casares and entitled Red Light (11 June – 29 July 2013). His exhibition which combined photography and collage was creating a domestic environment very particular. His early career as a runway model has influenced the aesthetics of his artwork as well as the taste for combining colors and textures but the most interesting of this young talent is his ability to tell a story from digitized life, marked by the technological transformation of social relations, however through analog delicated tools.

Red Light starts about the relationship of the artist with his last girlfriend, however behind his anecdotes there is the germ of a first generation of digital natives. The mobile phone, emails, Facebook, Twitter, those were the busiest places with her, from beginning to end. Same time he was writing and drawing in a notebook everything he thought or felt about it, including pictures of her also of the bed with white sheets they both sometimes shared. That bed reminiscent of Tracey Emin My Bed (1998) bought by Charles Saatchi and displayed as part of the first exhibition when the Saatchi Gallery opened its new premises at County Hall, London. Emin’s bed was presented in the state that she claimed it had been when she said she had not got up from it for several days due to suicidal depression brought on by relationship difficulties. Gimeno’s bed is definitely portrayed after heartbreak. He lies inside, fully covered by the sheet, sad, causing the viewer a strange feeling, upsetting anyone who contemplate the work.

The list of songs they listened together, crossed out, with adhesive on top, framed as a mockery to Spotify or iTunes is one of the representative works by Gimeno. An intense red light crosses most part of the photos referring to sex. Some collages that include a photo of his beautiful mother help to create an intimate aura and stimulate reflection on the female figure.

That girl was unfaithful and he suffered. But he refused to externalize in public areas, he turned everything on paper and walked away from the social media for a while. Now he turns the museum into his own “wall” to post everything about it as an exercise in overcoming an extreme version of deception. According to the book A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (1978) by Roland Barthes trying to write love is to confront the muck of language; that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little… Anyway the digital native do it.

*First time this article was published in Ivorypress magazine Turn On Art.

 

What is art but a temporal space of freedom?

By Marisol Salanova

 

Artists are expected to stretch the boundaries, push the envelope and break the rules. Someone could say that there is no limit to their creativity especially in performance art. But the truth is that many times the audience or the authorities stop them because they are endangering themselves, others, or the social established order. How far is too far? How weird is too weird? Freedom of the artist probably has a limited time which depends on external acceptance and other factors such as political. Just a few months ago the aestheticized morbidity of French artist Adel Abdessemed shocked the world by his solo show at the Pompidou Center in Paris which had some artworks where there were animals dying. Other artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Jan Fabre caused similar controversies before, turning the museum into a place for extreme reflection. It is supposed that their way of go further help contribute to changing the world in an artistically fruitful manner.

 

Cuban installation and performance artist Tania Bruguera seems to be very interested in the role of the museum as an active forum and the influence of art in society. Some of her works examine the relationship between apathy and anaesthetization of the images in the mass media, an important social problem in the last years in all the developed countries. For example, during her performance Tatlin’s Whisper #5 (Tate Modern, London, UK, 2008) she was exposing behavioural responses in the obedient audience respecting men in uniform or having a passive attitude during an exhibition or a performance. She enlisted the help of two uniformed policemen mounted on horseback who pushed the gathered audience around the gallery space using techniques developed to control rioting crowds. Although the artist was providing a space of freedom visitors answered by complying with the oral instructions of the officers and the imposing physical and historical presence of the horses used as repressive means.

 

Some controversial performances create a tension between the viewer and the viewed: Chris Burden asking a friend to shoot him, Ana Mendieta lying face-down, half naked, tied to a table and covered in blood like she was raped, Marina Abramovic inviting viewers to injure her… What do we do with this violent surplus? In her book The Human Condition (1958) the philosopher Hannah Arendt states that violence is mute and guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom. Perhaps art gives voice to violence making it more visible so is easier to combat it. Bruguera’s work calls on us to reflect on prevent gun violence and mass shootings starting from the ideas of freedom and self destruction. During her performance Self Sabotage (Biennale di Venezia, Italy, 2009) she sat at a table reading a speech about the concept of survival, stopping from time to time to hold a gun to her head to play a real-life game of Russian Roulette which is a potentially lethal game of chance. The gun was truly loaded and the artist was finally stopped by audience members and fellow artists who were suffering all along. Bruguera’s body had become an element of protest beyond the abyect as Viennese Actionists did in the middle of the last century. I understand it is an act of resistance against oppression at a given time, in a given space, for a specific duration. Probably this perception of time in moments of grief and stress is very unique because it builds a temporary space of freedom that no one can take away.

Read More