Javier Hontoria

  • Ignasi Aballí, Something Is Missing V, 2016, ink-jet print on paper, 18 1/2 × 23 5/8". From the series “Something Is Missing,” 2016.

    Ignasi Aballí

    From the first, Catalan artist Ignasi Aballí has questioned the notion that painting is an eminently visual device. He began working at the end of the 1980s, when the weariness produced by the painting overflow of that decade impelled many artists to reflect not so much upon what was to be seen but rather upon the conceptual framework that made it visible. For Aballí, this led to a practice based more on suggestion than on explicit presence, in which painting was active as an idea and not as a physical entity, and images were to belong to the realm of the mind rather than to that of the eye.

  • View of “Juliette Blightman: Extimacy,” 2016.
    picks November 01, 2016

    Juliette Blightman

    At the entrance to this exhibition, a sheet of text by Juliette Blightman elides the wintry dullness of institutional overtures and promptly slips a viewer into her intimate space. It is a territory she rarely abandons, and one to which few other contemporary artists lay claim with the same fresh simplicity and uninhibited sincerity. The title of the show, “Extimacy,” evokes an outward orientation that does not ultimately characterize the works included. This presentation explores a tension between presence and absence—or, perhaps, the multiple ways of being present.

    Two big paintings, Exclusivity

  • Vanessa Billy, Monument, 2016, car engine, food-grade silicone, 51 1/4 × 47 1/4 × 27 1/2".

    Vanessa Billy

    In this age of technology, materials have become a major concern in contemporary sculpture, with artists showing keen interest not so much in their intrinsic properties as in the meditative observation of their behavior. Rather than being manipulated and transformed according to someone’s aesthetic decision, materials perform; they take on a role that turns out to be just as active as that of the artist, or even more so. Formerly a maker, the artist is relegated to a more contemplative—and often perplexed—position. Sculpture is the vessel of a force, the container of a drive that

  • José Díaz, Unisex, 2016, oil on canvas, 63 1/4 x 51".
    picks October 17, 2016

    José Díaz

    Since its beginnings, the pictorial world of José Diaz’s work has been deeply imbued with both historical references and a recognition of the digital age’s ardent circulation of images. His subject is the city and, more specifically, the experience of his hometown, Madrid. It is a longtime point of reference in his abstract output and one that has evoked issues as varied as Spain’s Baroque tradition and the smoke-stained tunnels of the city’s ring road. The once dark and densely layered surfaces of older paintings give way now to an unprecedented clarity. His city is still his backdrop, but his

  • Cabello/Carceller, Rapping Philosophy: Foucault, Sontag, Butler, Mbembe, 2016. Performance view, May 13. MC Hábil Harry. Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith.

    Cabello/Carceller

    Helena Cabello and Ana Carceller, a Madrid-based duo active since 1992, have effectively intermingled a committed pedagogical stance with an art practice based on photography, video, performance, and writing. Deeply imbued with a solid feminist discourse, their work invariably emphasizes the voices of the minorities that were and are abusively marginalized by Eurocentric modernist canons. This approach inevitably encompasses a reevaluation of the concept of authorship; the standard image of the white male genius is systematically undermined, not only by means of a practice developed by a two-woman

  • View of “Marina Pinsky,” 2016
    picks May 25, 2016

    Marina Pinsky

    Every exhibition by Marina Pinsky, and this one is no exception, is ineluctably constructed upon a series of foundations—namely, a profound interest in the specificity of the context and an apparently effortless and uninhibited choice of materials. Nonetheless, a solid relationship between sculpture and photography in particular persists throughout her oeuvre. The young Russian now lives in Brussels, where she seems to have quickly absorbed the somewhat uncanny sense of humor that governs Belgian people’s take on almost everything.

    On the ground floor of this gallery, Pinsky’s intervention

  • View of “Itziar Okariz: Diario de sueños. Septiembre.” (Diary of Dreams. September.), 2016.
    picks March 31, 2016

    Itziar Okariz

    For more than two decades, Itziar Okariz has blazed a trail for Spanish performance artists through a practice based on exploring the construction of identity. Her work stems from 1990s gender discourse, yet ascribing its qualities exclusively to this context would definitely be reductive, as the artist has always focused on a performativity that also examines the ties between landscape and architecture, sign and ritual, or sexuality and territory. In her quest to render the self, her practice took a turn to the verbal over the spatial, privileging language over the body.

    Much of Okariz’s practice

  • View of “Álvaro Negro,” 2015–16.
    picks December 21, 2015

    Álvaro Negro

    Two paintings and a tiny video installation comprise Álvaro Negro’s return to a Madrid gallery after many years of silent research on painting and temporality. The show seems rather small, but emanates an outstanding intensity; such is the dense weave of perceptive associations it conveys. The works presented in this show stem from another, not on view here, which was made via a meditative filmic process, and focusing on a set of sculptures German artist Ulrich Rückriem installed in a field in Galicia, Negro’s hometown in northwest Spain. By positioning his camera from a varied array of vantage

  • View of “David Bestué,” 2015.

    David Bestué

    Barcelona-based David Bestué first came to prominence as part of a duo with Marc Vives, with whom he had systematically and mockingly subverted the tropes of modern sculpture through performances that gained the pair international attention, for instance through their participation in Daniel Birnbaum’s Venice Biennale in 2009. Working on his own since 2012, Bestué has relentlessly elaborated a critical slant on architecture. In carrying out this critique, he transcends artistic and aesthetic concerns, often sneaking into the realms of engineering and constructive techniques.

    Bestué’s first solo

  • View of “Carlos Bunga,” 2015–16.
    picks November 24, 2015

    Carlos Bunga

    Over the years, Carlos Bunga has developed a meditative response to architecture that takes the form of sculptural work and site-specific installation. At the National University Museum of Art of Bogotá, a building designed in the modernist tradition by Alberto Estrada, Bunga puts forth an array of propositions that work against and within—and from and toward—context. His installation adds and subtracts content, and it unveils itself to be blatantly rational while at the same time, undisguisedly and somehow unexpectedly, it portrays a sublimation of the contemplative. Never in Bunga’s work had

  • Ian Law, The wait is over, 2015, exposed waiting-room chair backs with picked, home-dried flower shadows, 17 x 122 x 17".
    picks November 12, 2015

    Ian Law

    Ian Law’s solo exhibition is a poetical speculation on presence and absence, on visibility and opacity. It is a reflection on the narrative potential of materials but also on their inability to produce meaning, which, in his case, is a meaningful narrative. There was a body, I was there, was a body (all works 2015), awaits the visitor at the top of the gallery’s stairs. Consisting of a jumble of medical privacy screens wrapped up in translucent gift paper, the work is voluminous yet vulnerable.

    For Reflections of absent others, Law placed large canvases on the windows of the gallery, with paint

  • Leonor Serrano Rivas, Limbs describe curves, 2015, video, 12 minutes 38 seconds.
    picks October 01, 2015

    Leonor Serrano Rivas

    The video and half dozen sculptures in Leonor Serrano Rivas’s first solo exhibition in Madrid touch on an array of topics related to the performing attributes of bodies and objects. At the space’s entrance, a lightly swinging surface like the curtain of a theater displays a projected video titled Limbs describe curves, 2015. It comprises a set of instructions that enable followers to undertake an emulation of nature, a sort of manual purporting to teach “how to imitate the wind” or “how to make a cloud move across the stage.” It is a captivating work that finds its origin—and its pedagogical