Eight artists ( 7 Spainish and one Mexican ) whose work began to be known at the end of the 1990´s and is in now full development were selected to specifically develop a body of work that would shown in this unique space which was up until recently the largest and oldest tobacco company in the Latin world. This was no easy task if you have viewed the enormity of these rooms.
But on the other hand for me still the atmosphere of these spaces even empty are filled with a both recent deep and distant past like the lingering smell of tobacco leaves you sense sometimes you hear the voices of the three thousand female workers that filled these post imperial rooms.
The eight artists - Jacobo Castellano, Miren Doiz , Nuria Fuster, Fernanado Garcia, Hisae Ikenaga (Mex) , Jaime de la Jara , Guillermo Mora and Miguel Angel Tornero and the exhibition begins in a specific space The Tabacalera building. A building which has a history tied to a particular economy and a political and social context.
¨Today this building is a mixed space where institutional management cohabitates withe the self management of various independantly organized Madrid groups¨. *
* http:/ www.mcu.es/proArte/index.html
I enjoyed the show overall in small parts of certain artists work, for example the drawings and video of the puffing smoke by Jaime de la Jara very atmospheric a thought provoking like something in the distance moving towards you but never seems to get any closer.
But the work in particular of Jacobo Castellano ( Signs and delimited fields ) and Farnando Garcia ( homage to Luis Candelas) used the medium of the spaces most impressivly.
Described in a review of his work as an adventure towards failure ( which it never is) he likes to behave as a Beckett- like character locked up with only one toy - the object he transformes. Confused in the process, destroying it - into something else - something incredible and forcing us to open our minds wide in order to understan what he wants to tell us.
These cut shoes of Jacobos, Bunuel - like in appearence, what are they ? Closed a both ends tragically comic, their use possibly at an end in this life and in them ley the sleep of the dead ?
The preface to Castellano´s installation pays tribute to the movie theatre his grandfather ran in his hometown. It is a ticket booth we have to pass through in order to enter this scenic field from his childhood. The artist also insists on searching for a new story in the objects past : a fishermans pocketshrine shrunk to miniscule in the installation takes on a strange strength in it´s diminitive scale.
Toothpicks, shoes , everyday things mixed with a microscopic portable alter with a tiny virgin inside that the fishermen carry as protection. The pagan is camouflaged in a religious symbol.
The work of the second artist Fernando Garcia although usually a painter in this show the focus was on light but through sculpture. The theatrical keys to understanding his work for Tababcalera: Convent interior / Castle lighting / Spanish meson (tavern) / Luis Candelas light being the protagonist of each piece.
In the origin of his work we see the constant revision of historical figures used as totems of inspiration such as the legend of Madrid Luis Candelas born in the district of Lavapies in 1804 and executed in 1837. He had studied as a book seller for a period but opted for the life of a thief in order to manitain a certain standard of life of which he had become accustomed.
Garcia works as an artisan challenging the capitalist system of production and preferring precious time over economic output in his work. The physical work that he has put into both the research into rescuing what is almost forgotten Spanish folklore and binding these chandeliers from broken glass, pebbles, wood and wire which in the hands of the artist are transformed into jewels.
The old rope making shops that still survive in parts of Madrid and the typical taverns that have been around forever are the focus point for Garcias work.In a wider and more spiritual search the turns his attention to convents and castles where imprints of progress and the modern world are less evident are artisanal customs can still be seen.
His art pieces are impossible to define in the institutionalized world of art, new rural , new land art, post Vallecas school, call it what you want because he is unaffected and will continue on his path of Castilian austerity.