Cristina NualART

Tag: España

Arco-co-collage 2016

Collage is like the mind, it keeps all wanderlustered ramifications in one easy-access place, that in turn takes you on a journey. As a medium, it is one big playing field for both material and formal explorations, and for serendipitous image composition and surreal conceptualisation.

ARCO, the Madrid art fair, had an abundant amount of collaged works during its 35th edition. On paper, that doesn’t surprise me. ARCO has a high interest in art from Latin America, and that’s a region that in recent years has been producing a lot of careful work on paper, often with a retro flavour, which embeds plentiful references to times of old  i.e., political critique.). I’m thinking, for example, of the work of artists like Elena Damiani, Johanna Calle, Adriana Bustos or Luz Lizarazo. But collage, arguably, can be sculptural or photographic, as in some of the examples here which some might label ‘expanded painting’. Same idea. Take multiple pieces, preferably with some random component during the selection process, and put them all together. It can be done with home appliances, printed images, canvas-less frames, slabs of marble, feathers or photographic film negatives.


El silencio en el armario

casoalcacer1998_80x80_cnualartTengo un secreto en el armario de la ropa que no se usa. La ropa que está siempre fuera de estación, porque cuando salen las prendas estivales, entran las de invierno. Nunca es temporada para lo que esconde ese armario.

Detrás de algún abrigo largo, donde más oscuro está, hay un cuadro que no ha visto la luz, casi, casi, desde que lo terminé, en 1998. El caso Alcácer fué el primer feminicidio mediático que me golpeó de jovencita. Me dió pesadillas.

Enfrentada al horror humano, una pila de vendas (¡vendas!), alambre del que pincha, y pintura roja y negra se ofrecieron a mis manos como chivo expiatorio del subconsciente. 20 años después del crimen, el repelús sigue vivo, también en ese cuadro negro coronado de rosas sangrantes. Culpo al inconsciente colectivo por la simbología demasiado arquetípica.

Me asombro (nunca mejor dicho – me extirpé la sombra…) de las horas de trabajo, moldeándo a mano cada pétalo, con plena consciencia del tema del cuadro, y ningún recuerdo del horror que debía estar ocupando mi mente.

Terminado el cuadro, participé en una exposición colectiva en el centro juvenil de la población donde vivía. Pero rechazaron este cuadro, y yo sabía que me lo censuraban. Igual que la verdad de lo sucedido, la pintura espinosa desapareció en el armario que apenas se abre. Y allí sigue. Cubriéndose de polvo como las investigaciones cerradas.


Con otra obra, el mes que viene participaré en una exposición colectiva de arte feminista en Inglaterra, The Femail Project. Para que no todo lo que hay que gritar se quede amordazado.






I’ve been in Cataluña visiting my gran for her 88th birthday. She doesn’t believe she is 88, and claims to be too busy to brush her teeth! The birthday was a lovely, sunny winter’s day.


Eco art

Currently, Madrid’s Casa de America presents a group exhibition of Spanish and Latin American artists, Mientras sea posible’. The brief is not one I’ve come across elsewhere: to show humankind’s adaptability and potential for change. This topic has been explored in many a new media/digital art exhibition, but here the focus is on natural materials and homeostasis: the tendency to equilibrium between interdependent elements, in particular that of the body, or even the earth, as a unified organism.

Transforming the environment is something all of us who live in cities forget about, because the built cityscape shows change less dramatically than sites in transition from a rural to a more urbanised status. This exhibition offers no reflections on the loss of natural landscape, however, but enough on that can be found in any publication by Greenpeace España.

The questions asked by the curator have been interpreted with more references to local mythology and traditions than I would have expected, and I enjoyed that surprise.

This is Chilean artist Catalina Bauer’s contemporary rendition of quipu, an Andean accounting system. I am fascinated by how many knowledge systems exist that most Westerners like myself never hear about. It makes me question dominant paradigms, and the increasing spread of them. Will the minority ones become extinct, or preserved as a token, like older languages that carry a culture but have little use since they are only used by bilingual people who communicate mostly in their ‘stronger’ tongue? Either way, the artist is pointing to what is on the other side. It is up to us to glimpse through the grass curtain, and discover an alternative paradigm or a message on the inside vs. the outside.

Argentinian artist Ana Gallardo uses a Mexican tradition as a source of inspiration for her installation. The religious rituals of pilgrims to Oaxaca’s Virgen de Juquila are re-enacted by visitors to this space. Viewers, like pilgrims, may give material form to their wishes, out of mud, and leave them en route to the sanctuary, which is here reduced in size so it looks like a room-sized train-set. Because of the miniature landscape feel, it bears similarities with Jake and Dinos Chapman’s now defunct Hell, but made by a younger sibling. Gallardo asks us to make a wish for our own old age, so a resonance of proximity to death is inferred too. However, this is a home-made and interactive kind of artwork which grants hope, and sees people united in good will rather than a bloodbath. Believer or not, making mudcakes is a pastime that kept me happy for hours as a child, and I therefore wholeheartedly recommend it. Even if your wishes don’t come true, it will do you good.

Catalina León is another Argetinian artist, whose curtains of fallen and falling leaves give no indication of their origin or intention. By way of an artist statement, Catalina says only: ‘May nothing trouble you, may nothing frighten you, everything passes’. Such buddhist-style wisdom fits in well with the calm beauty of the piece, but leaves you wondering if you are indeed feeling cheated out of a deep theory for the artwork. Of course I had enjoyed in the work of the other artists learning about legends and stories new to me, here I get no such education. But the cascading sheets of leaf-shaped blankets filling the space with a warm foresty smell, carefully made of hand-stitched leaves, provoke plenty of imaginings of tribal crafts and the cloak of nature to keep one satisfied.

Body image terrorism

MUA, Museo de la Universidad de Alicante, has 4 wonderful spaces (usually showing contemporary art) that are always empty of people. It must be because it’s well off the beaten track, but the handful of times that I’ve been there since I discovered it (I think in 2002), have offered excellent exhibitions: Joan Fontcuberta, Albert Agulló, Damià Diaz and a number of other artists whose name I have regrettably forgotten.

All 4 current exhibitions are typically solid. Mulier Mulieris is the one I preferred. A yearly competition, some of this years’ works are not highly challenging, but the good ones made me laugh or cringe, either of which is what you want art to do, unless it wows you with aesthetic emotion. Rustha Luna Pozzi-Escot is the artist in this self-portrait as a make-up terrorist. Playing  stereotypes, she dresses up as a cowgirl, a samurai, etc. using lipsticks, eyeshadow and other cosmetics-in-plastic as ammunition. I’m very amused by the idea that so-called ‘beauty products’ can be construed as weapons so literally.

The next installation really made me laugh out loud. Sandra March’s La Silla de la Reina, eloquently subtitled ‘distribution and consumption of myths’, is a wall display divided in sections: art, science, politics, literature, music, etc. Columns of little packaged chairs, each in the style of a woman known for her contributions to the field, feature a humourous biography, a photo and a title. A toy shop would have many products packaged in a similar way, just not half as witty. From the Guerrilla Girls to Mata Hari, discover female wisdom dating back two millenia, and educate yourself with this mini-encyclopedia of herstory.

Yolanda Dominguez, in her work below, mixes the fun (sarcastic?) use of toys with the criticism of make-up as a constraint in the form of photographs that represent, she explains, the nourishment of education. These dishes of mock omelette contain hyperpink toys (for girls only!), lipsticks and all sorts of ‘girlie’ objects. Eat your eyes out.


A harsher view of what being a woman means is given by Rosa Mascaró’s videos inspired by Tanzania, where the oldest known human footprints are found, and where sex slaves and female genital mutilation are also, deplorably, still found.


Unless otherwise specified, text and images © 2017 Cristina Nualart

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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