Javier Hontoria

  • Lara Almarcegui, Buried House, Dallas, 2013, HD video, color, sound, 7 minutes.

    Lara Almarcegui

    In spite of her towering presentation at the Spanish pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale, where she introduced huge piles of materials that had exactly the same weight as the ones that made up the building, or her 2012 exhibition at Track in Ghent, Belgium, a similarly overwhelming project—a mountain of seven hundred cubic meters of cement—Lara Almarcegui’s work is essentially discreet and overtly unmonumental. Since the mid-1990s, she has taken a truly personal stance on architecture. Her interest lies in anonymous spaces, those that will always be ignored by the branding ambitions

  • Alexandra Bircken, Diana, 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks April 28, 2014

    Alexandra Bircken

    It is probably due to Alexandra Bircken’s unacademic background that her work seems simultaneously uninhibited and heterogeneous in its output. The materials the artist continually turns to range from wool to motorbikes, anatomical appendages to skateboards, tree branches to an aluminum anchor. At the very entrance of this exhibition curated by Noor Mertens, a limbless bronze sculpture somewhat hidden behind a pane of glass could be passed by unnoticed; such is Bircken’s disdain toward monumentality. Though it is titled Eva, 2013, it is difficult to identify the work with anything germinal.

  • Fran Meana, The Immaterial Material #2, 2014, metal shelving units, plastic grid, concrete, 63 x 83 x 13”.
    picks March 12, 2014

    Fran Meana

    In his first solo exhibition at the gallery’s new Madrid location, Fran Meana tackles memories of twentieth-century history while inquiring into the tension between form and image, tangibility and visibility. At the heart of this show is a quaint pedagogical program from the 1910s at a small school embedded within a mining complex in the northern region of Asturias, an area destined toward hardship due to the dismantling of old industrial compounds. The school’s masters created teaching methodologies informed by the use of stone reliefs in geometrical patterns: Meana reaches back to these reliefs

  • Black Tulip, New Origin (Phase 1), 2013, scaffolds, nylon belts, fabric, dimensions variable.

    Black Tulip

    Last year was a difficult one for Barcelona: The ongoing economic recession in combination with increasing political crisis has turned the once dazzling Catalan capital into a disheartening wasteland. One of the very few glittering lights was the emergence of Black Tulip, the enigmatic umbrella under which a number of artists explore, among other things, issues of authorship in creative processes. The group has no fixed membership; each project has different participants. Early in March of last year, for instance, Black Tulip performed an inspiring action at Halfhouse, an artist’s association

  • Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Escala 1:1 (Scale 1:1), 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks January 08, 2014

    Isidoro Valcárcel Medina

    A sober and discreet Conceptualist, Isidoro Valcárcel Medina has had a five-decade career, and his influence on younger generations of Spanish artists is far from receding. Curated by Juan de Nieves, this museum-quality exhibition of new pieces is devoted to the artist’s profoundly personal insights into architecture. It comprises blueprints and plans regarding two projects related to a nearby private dwelling (El hilván [Basting], 2012, and A dos caras, a dos aguas [Two-sided and Gabled], 2013), and one site-specific intervention for the basement of the gallery (Escala 1:1 [Scale 1:1], 2013).

  • Ian Kiaer, a. r. salle des études (a. r. study room) (detail), 2013, paper, Plexiglas, rubber, aluminum, video projection (black-and-white, silent, 60 minutes), dimensions variable.

    Ian Kiaer

    Broadly speaking, Ian Kiaer’s methodology evokes the intricate process of placing heterogeneous elements in a plane within an accurate perspective (or at least a desired one). In other words, despite its sculptural guise, his work avails itself of a concept historically attached to painting. Not many individual positions so epitomize the expanded nature of artistic practice today as Kiaer’s, in which voids convey content as much as forms do. Scattered around the exhibition space, his fragmentary objects paradoxically sparked the notion of a whole as he immersed the viewer in scenarios built on

  • Antonio Rovaldi, Domani pensami in battaglia (Tomorrow in the Battle, Think of Me), 2013, bronze, plinth, 15 3/4 x 4 x 15 3/4”.
    picks December 07, 2013

    Antonio Rovaldi

    Two years ago, after the opening of his first solo exhibition at this gallery, artist Antonio Rovaldi bought a small ten-inch plaster statue of an armless man in Madrid’s popular flea market, El Rastro. Back in Milan, where he currently lives and works, Rovaldi found a ramshackle foundry where he melted the statue in order to make a new one with arms. A compelling video in the back room of the gallery depicts this process. As the process of casting the sculpture develops on screen, Rovaldi is seen fixing the bicycle that would take him to Madrid after riding some five hundred miles from Genoa

  • Victor Man, The Chandler, 2013, oil on board, 39 3/4 x 28 1/3”.
    picks October 17, 2013

    Victor Man

    Romanian artist Victor Man’s first solo exhibition with this gallery succeeds in restoring the bourgeois interior of the space’s previous incarnation as a nineteenth-century opulent dwelling while simultaneously depicting a dark and somewhat melancholic world. Man’s small canvases are juxtaposed with photographs by Pierre Molinier, a solitary figure of postwar Surrealism known for his proclivity to transvestism. Together, the works by these two artists create a tense narrative thread that haunts in its provocations.

    Three of Man’s paintings create a strange thematic line, effectively linking the

  • Patricia Esquivias, The Future Was When?, 2009, video, color, sound, 19 minutes   51 seconds.

    Patricia Esquivias

    Patricia Esquivias has an unquestionably international background. Born in Caracas in 1979 to a Spanish father and a Peruvian mother, she studied in the UK and the US and subsequently divided her time between Mexico and Spain before settling her practice in Madrid. Her work is nonetheless deeply grounded in a keen interest in Spain’s history and culture. The title of her recent solo exhibition “Todas las tradiciones son inventadas” (All Traditions Are Inventions) refers to the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm’s idea of “invented traditions.” Hobsbawm was known for his skepticism about the linear

  • Juan López, S/T, 2013, wall drawing and video projection, dimensions variable.
    picks September 15, 2013

    Juan López

    For the past ten years, Juan López has found his place among the best Spanish artists of his generation through work that presents ludic yet trenchant reflections on architecture, public space, institutional critique, and street art. Whether by making colorful vinyl and masking tape pieces, subtly transforming the language of billboards, or repurposing trompe-l’oeil traditions, he has always eagerly leveraged the strategy of subversion in order to question materials, craftsmanship, representation, and other aspects of artistic practice.

    Many of the most recognizable features of his art are visible

  • Fernando García, Alacena (detail), 2013, wood, string, mixed media, 10' 10“ x 3' 3 3/8” x 11 7/8".

    Fernando García

    For more than a decade, the art of Madrid-born Fernando García was easily recognizable as part of the widespread trend of post-Conceptual painting sweeping Europe these days. Such work was marked by an ironic use of language, wry comments on art production, and witty allusions to the art market, all combined in a deliberately clumsy style of painting. And yet even when his paintings were at their most formulaic, his shows always contained something unexpected. Lately, something has radically changed, and the shift in García’s work seems to coincide with his recent move from the city to the

  • Pere Llobera, untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 12 x 12”.
    picks July 03, 2013

    Pere Llobera

    Pere Llobera’s current exhibition extends his distinctive conceptual position on the possibilities of painting. Yet a sense of melancholia arises from two paintings installed near each other at the far end of the gallery, works that set the tone for the show. Both Foc Nere (Black Fire) and Abandoned Model (all works 2013) have been painted from models, a strategy Llobera had not previously explored and one that plays a crucial role in the exhibition. While Foc Nere evokes an fire where black flames exude neither light nor color, Abandoned Model features an arrangement of white pieces of cardboard