Past exhibitions

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Unfolding Modernisms (for future thoughts)

Exhibition May 1st - June 13th 2015

with Diego Santomé, João Marçal, Marlena Kudlicka and Regina de Miguel

curated by Miguel von Hafe Pérez




We contemplate the multiple possibilities that emerge during the construction of a group exhibition. We contemplate the multiple misconceptions that result from the design of a discourse that aims to encompass the perspectives of each of the works placed in dialogue. As a result, we view this curatorial act as a moment of suspension of the comfort of clear and transparent ideas, or rather as a means of questioning a development process that is open to doubt and speculative clarification of the ambiguous density of a reality that aims to be accessible and understandable. 

The possibilities of error constitute daily conquests for artists. Because discourses are anchored in their proposals, rooted in other-certainties that render the perception of the world more complex - as a changing and elusive entity. In the aftermath of a modernity subject to constructive desegregation - hopefully - the beginning of our century is experiencing the anxiety of questioning new social and political plans of unpredictable magnitude. We might say that the very foundations of democratic universalism are being shattered in the process of globalization - which was initially envisioned as promise of happiness, but was quickly and inexorably contradicted by the primacy of a nameless, opaque economy, that has neither aroma nor ideology. This process of de-ideologization orientates much of our everyday existence, whether through the falsity of an inert system of political representation, or the incomprehensible transactions of an economy and financial markets that are anchored in unprecedented speculation.

Let us return, then, to the possibility of error, of interpreting things in a deviant manner, of densifying meanings that artists can still offer us, in order to justify the motivation of much of contemporary culture. First and foremost, this affirmation is an act of poetic resistance. Language (of the visual arts, in this case), as the possibility of constructive disruption of its operation. Language as the creative overcoming of its rules and functions: poetry as a method. Poetic pragmatism.

It is nonetheless curious that many of the strategies currently being erected in the contemporary plastic discourse are willing to revisit key moments in the definition of a conflictual space of a modernity that is increasingly understood in its differentiated territorial dynamic, in the oxymoronic impermanence of its ideological substrate and the chronological discontinuity that defines its essence.

The four artists whose works are presented herein claim the possibility and the need to creatively reinterpret certain segments of this modernity. This doesn’t mean that they need to reaffirm certain principles, structures or aesthetic foundations. Instead it involves a critically repositioning of practical approaches and a poetic reactivation of specific episodes as expanded stories of a memory in permanent hermeneutic tension.

Marlena Kudlicka (1973 TomaszówLubelski, Poland) works from a process of deconstruction of sculptural language in systematic models that articulate algebraic and alphabetical notes. Her interventions are therefore defined from a dialogue between language, concept and form. In 'a divided dot. folder', 2014, we are faced with a sculptural composition that is reminiscent of modernist typography, even though its instrumental base is inspired by the design of reading magnification symbols in mobile phones. In other words, fluctuation of signs in this case conjures upan impossibility to signify meaning, given that it is anchored in an abstract precept that defines itself as a language error. The rhythm of the analytical breakdown of a point - a divided, and therefore inoperative, structure - refers to an open system of auto-signification, which is understood here as a commentary on the modern teleology of abstraction as a universalizing language. The subtlety of the gesture and the formal restraint of this composition, which conjures up an idea of ​​a soundless musical score or a meaningless language, establishes a perceptive vocabulary as a possibility for continuous expansion and potential developments.

Fiction and reality. Science and utopia. The unfathomable, the distant, the future and the extinct. Translation and death. Regina de Miguel (Malaga, 1977) brings us a story that incorporates all these elements. Using historical data - Carl Sagan’s collaboration with NASA’s space programme during the 1970s, in particular the sending of messages that might be received by aliens - the artist establishes an imagined cartography inspired by a phrase from Sylvia Plath’s diary ("Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn."); which is then translated into various ancient or endangered languages. Each word corresponds to images of sites that are linked to these languages, or that are targeted towards cosmographic notes. At her side, a brass plaque signals different moments in the evolution of human knowledge, decisive moments in the history of civilisation, a sort of subjective letter of presentation for posterity. Voices of vanishing worlds, 2013,thus persists in a space-time gap that is determined by the conviction of finitude, of the translated transmission of knowledge. The universal is rendered particular through themistaken singularity of death. A desire to overcome that is structured in layers of hermetic meaning,a prehistory of a future that is glimpsed in its spectral unfathomability. We correspond to both place and movement; matter and language: finite, hopelessly aware of this condition, we nonetheless still try to mark, document, learn and share.

In the films of Diego Santomé (Vigo, 1966) we find an eloquent transition between commentary of a geographical, social and political context and the notation of cultural invariants that determine the present day. Galápagoeuropeo (Emys orbicularis), 2013-2014, is based on images filmed in the region of the Gândaras de Budiño, in Galicia, where this turtle is an endangered species. Industrial development policies –that commenced during Franco's dictatorship - have been implemented in this region, causing a vital imbalance in the ecosystem in which these turtles evolve. The way that the camera records lengthy and contrasting shots between the natural and the artificial universes, reveals a subjective and committed perspective. A metaphor of an unequal struggle, persists in the empathy with the smallest creature that survives in this zone, against the tyrannical inequality of resources. On the other hand, in Apuntamentos e breve aproximación a Sargadelos, primeiraversión, 2013-2014, Santomé revisits one of Europe’s most unique modernist experiences of the twentieth century: the Sargadelos group, which over its various stages, constituted an industry model with a culturally inspired vision that aimed to use avant-garde languages to recover the region’s traditional values . In the post-1949 period, driven by the artists, Isaac Díaz Pardo and Luís Seoane, numerous initiatives were undertaken that conveyed an image of the parent company as a laboratory for the dissemination of innovative aesthetic and social ideas. By experiencing a moment of breakdown and decrepitude, in the visual itinerary proposed by the artist, we envision the decline of a modus operandi that has now become a routine aimed at survival, whereas it once opened up vital fields of experimentation.

Extinction and resignation. Although present, these are concepts that the artists refer to not as a trauma, but as a critical memory, as a tool for densification of our way of understanding the present.This brings us back to the beginning and the notion of error. In a context determined by effectiveness, by success and regulations, we reiterate that the creative space is a space where the void, or the quasi void, may have significant repercussions. The preconceived conventionality of the expectation that we need to have a reason to create, determined by more or less transcendental goals and experiences, generates the misconceptions that contemporary art has been wrestling with for over a century. João Marçal (Santarém, 1980) underlines this obvious fact using a corrosive formal strategy: on the basis of an image that he retained from his memory of countless cigarette breaks on his front porch, he recreates this abstract pattern on painted papers that are developed in a geometric accuracy and in a quasi decorative excess. This is the replica of the base of the packaging of a pack of yoghurts. This is not especially interesting for the case in hand. More interesting is the determination of the choice (as in the Duchampian choice) and the timing of the choice. From nothing to nothing: that's what it looks like. I don't think so, because from this "void", artists will build initiatives of poetic resistance, as we have seen.

Unfolding ideas from a memory built on heroic gestures, but also from the most insignificant, transient and unseen gestures. We draw the most important conclusions from this complex substrate: completely against perceptive indifference and thought. We’re already bored, manipulated and anaesthetised by other means.


Miguel von Hafe Pérez


With kind support of Galeria Graça Brandão and Maisterravalbuena



Unfolding modernisms (for future thoughts)


Mit Diego Santomé, João Marçal, Marlena Kudlicka und Regina de Miguel


kuratiert von Miguel von Hafe Pérez


Wir betrachten die vielfältigen Möglichkeiten, die bei der Konstruktion einer Gruppenausstellung entstehen. Wir betrachten die vielen Missverständnisse, die aus der Gestaltung eines Diskurses resultieren, der die Perspektiven der einzelnen, in Dialog gesetzten Werke erfassen will. Demzufolge sehen wir diesen kuratorischen Akt als Moment der Aufhebung des Komfortsklarer und transparenter Ideen; oder vielmehr als ein Mittel der Befragung eines Entwicklungsprozesses, der offen für Zweifel und die spekulative Klärung der mehrdeutigen Dichte einer Realität ist, die behauptet, zugänglich und verständlich zu sein.


Die Möglichkeiten des Irrtums stellen für Künstler eine tägliche Überwindung dar.Weil Diskurse in ihren Vorschlägen verankert sind, in Anders-Gewissheiten, die die Wahrnehmung der Welt komplexer wiedergeben - als veränderliche und kaum fassbare Entität. In den Nachwirkungen eines Modernitätsbegriffs zur- hoffentlich - konstruktiven Aufhebung der Rassentrennung besteht der Beginn des neuen Jahrhunderts aus einer ängstlichen Hinterfragung neuer sozialer und politischer Pläne vonunvorhersehbarer Größenordnung. Wir könnten sagen, dass die Grundlagen des demokratischen Universalismus im Globalisierungsprozess zerrüttet werden  - welcher ursprünglich als Glücksversprechen vorgestellt wurde, aber schnell und unaufhaltsam vorrangig zu einer namenlosen, undurchsichtigen Wirtschaft wurde, die weder Aroma noch Ideologie aufweist. Dieser Prozess der De-Ideologisierung bestimmteinen großen Teil unserer täglichen Existenz; sei es durch die Falschheit eines trägen Systems politischer Repräsentation oder die unverständlichen Transaktionen der Wirtschaft und des Finanzmarktes, die in beispiellosen Spekulationen verankert sind.


Kehren wir also nun zur Möglichkeit des Irrtums zurück; zu einer etwas abweichenden Weise, Dinge zu interpretieren undBedeutungen zu verdichten, die Künstler uns zur Rechtfertigung der Motivation vieler zeitgenössischer Kultur noch bieten können. In erster Linie ist dies ein Akt der Bejahung poetischen Widerstands. Sprache (der bildenden Kunst, in diesem Fall) als Möglichkeit der konstruktiven Störung seines Betriebs. Sprache als kreative Überwindung seiner Regeln und Funktionen: Poesie als eine Methode. Poetischer Pragmatismus.


Dennoch ist es merkwürdig, dass viele der Strategien, die derzeit innerhalb des zeitgenössischen plastischen Diskurses aufgestellt werden, bereit sind, Schlüsselmomente in der Definition eines Konfliktbereichs einer Moderne zu überdenken, die zunehmend in ihrer differenzierten, territorialen Dynamik in der widersprüchlichen Unbeständigkeit ihres ideologischen Substrats und der chronologischen Diskontinuität, die ihr Wesen definiert, verstanden wird.


Die vier Künstler, deren Werke hier präsentierten werden, beanspruchen die Möglichkeit und die Notwendigkeit, bestimmte Segmente dieser Modernität kreativ zu interpretieren. Dies bedeutet nicht, dass sie bestimmte Prinzipien, Strukturen oder ästhetische Grundlagen bekräftigen müssen. Stattdessen beinhaltet eine kritische Neupositionierung praktische Ansätze und eine poetische Reaktivierung spezifischer Episoden als erweiterte Narration einer Erinnerung unter permanenter hermeneutischer Spannung.


Miguel von Hafe Pérez