The English word stroll, from the German strolch [vagabond], differs in just one letter from scroll, another word that denotes displacement, but now used globally to refer to the digital rather than the analogue environment. And while the practice of the stroll, inasmuch as it entails an intensiﬁcation of the psychic life, has little to do with mere displacement, in the current context both words contain an escapist connotation in the exercise of our daily routines. The twelve works on view in this exhibition, understood within the practice of each of the individual artists, tie in with the idea of displacement, whether it be fleeting or calm, forced or voluntary, physical or virtual, in natural or built environments.
This exhibition was conceived at the end of last year, without the need to scaffold it with a defined narrative. And yet, though far from trying to force an opportunistic discourse, it is hard not to find resonances with the current situation. Absence, isolation, expanded time, the computer screen as a window on reality are circumstances intrinsic to this exhibition that coincide with a much longed-for contact with nature or with the hustle and bustle of urban life.
The lyrical effect of the works by Antonio Rovaldi and by Miguel Marina may be rooted in the nature they depict. Antonio Rovaldi is interested in engaging with mental distances and real perceptions through physical experimentation in the landscape. Years ago he decided to correspond with the man, now in his eighties, who found the lifeless body of the poet Robert Walser in a forest in Switzerland. The crowning moment of the project was a posthumous re-enactment of the writer’s final stroll along with the boy who came across Walser lying on the ground near his farm. A sequence of photos captures little details of the surrounding nature, at once perpetuating the writer’s gaze. The melancholia dovetails with the paintings by Miguel Marina, in which the motifs appear to dematerialize and speak of an undefined fantasy which endeavours to circumscribe certain properties of nature, like those of the river or sky, to a compositional exercise proper to painting.
Enrique Radigales’ work is grounded in another atmosphere inciting landscapes which are remote yet at once everyday like those by Miguel Marina. By means of a paradigmatic relationship with the analogue world, the computer screen takes over from the Romantic window looking out over the landscape, updated to the present thanks to URLs, or to the past through sequences of routes of folders and archives that enable the artist to rediscover images of a now eroded nature. In other displacements with more measured times, like those that take place on the screen of a video game or in an urban landscape, there is a notable presence of other kinds of stimuli that overload us with layers of information. A large format canvas by José Díaz recalls the noise of the technological city but also the idiosyncratic Castilian landscape in the horizontal lines that perpetuate to form a plateau. This overload is precisely what Rovaldi wishes to avoid, protecting his ears when exploring Manhattan island from end to end. The headphones he used, later cast in ceramic, would prove useless today to dampen the noise if it were not for the covering that insulates them in this exhibition.
Similar to Díaz, Pierre Descamps explores big cities like New York, Berlin, Madrid… in search of buildings and urban fixtures used by skaters, though eschewing any physical presence in his photographs, instead revealing places that seem uninhabited and dystopian. While Díaz, in exercising his practice, captures the saturated ambience of the city in the field of expressiveness, Descamps prefers to recall twenty-century formalisms through a much more aseptic gaze.
Equally neutral is Cristina Garrido’s gaze on the mechanisms that promote and assign value to art objects. And if her work may appear to have little to do with the corpus on view in this show, we wished to recover a work of hers she made while ‘confined’ at home during her time as a student in London: an elaborate hand copy of an in-hall exhibition text by Hamish Fulton, an artist known for walking long distances on foot. This meticulous and exasperating exercise serves as a metaphor of the arduous path taken by artists and, as an epilogue, it brings to mind the current context and the desire to ‘turn the page’ and start out on new paths.
“The twelve works on view in this exhibition, understood within the practice of each of the individual artists, tie in with the idea of displacement, whether it be fleeting or calm, forced or voluntary, physical or virtual, in natural or built environments”.