Javier Montes

  • slant March 24, 2020

    Letter from Spain

    THREE WEEKS AGO, ARCO art fair closed in the same pavilions on the outskirts of Madrid that have just reopened as an emergency field hospital. It will treat mild COVID-19 and allow regular hospitals to cope and focus on the more serious cases.

    Three weeks ago, I couldn’t have imagined I’d be writing the above words.

    But in a matter of days that feel like centuries, Spain has shifted from apparent normality to an officially declared state of alarm accompanied by rigorous domestic confinement and war economy measures announced by a government that, last Sunday, extended the mandatory isolation period

  • diary March 06, 2020

    Something in the Air

    TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS: This was, at the beginning of the week of ARCOmadrid, more or less the tacit issue at hand, as the coronavirus had arrived in the capital just as the wings of the international art world were descending. But here in Spain, we are indiscriminately effusive with intimates and strangers alike, so as the fair—this year excellently led for the first time solo by Maribel López—took cruising speed, kisses and hugs and explosive laughs and close whispers in the ear won the war against demurer modes of interaction. For better or worse, each culture is born, develops itself, and

  • Sonia Andrade

    Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1935, Sonia Andrade was part of the first generation of Brazilian video artists. Under the country’s military dictatorship, these artists worked with limited means and congregated around the practice and theoretical training of Anna Bella Geiger, whose own ambitious retrospective at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo coincided with this succinct but powerful survey of nearly five decades of Andrade’s work. Together, the two shows provided a more complete picture of the creative production within a cohort of artists who developed their work in close collaboration. (Incidentally,

  • picks July 31, 2019


    Following civil war, Franco’s fascist reign for almost forty years, and the rigors of an intellectual opposition of ironclad left-wing orthodoxy, the young modernos who disembarked to Madrid from the four corners of Spain from 1975 onward were intent to shake off the authoritarianism, religiosity, and dogmas of any ideology. any ideology—to update clothes and philosophies, follow fashions and fads, or invent them. La Movida’s girls (and boys) just wanted to have fun.

    Or so it seemed. This survey focuses on the early drawings and experimental films of Carlos Sánchez Pérez (1958–2018), who would

  • John Isaacs

    A colorful colossus, vaguely anthropomorphic and covered in rags, guards the gallery entrance, setting an ambivalent tone for the carefully orchestrated choreography of John Isaacs’s exhibition “Dust.” All but one of the works on view have been shipped from the British artist’s Berlin studio—literally hot from the oven in the case of some ceramics. Isaacs has carefully arranged them to suggest a loose narrative, with an almost rakish progress from the most open spaces, visible from the street, toward the private, recondite inner rooms.

    Totem or taboo? The piece is titled The Architecture of

  • diary April 16, 2019

    Chillida Session

    “WE ARE always returning to the House of the Father.” This verse of Novalis, the über-romantic German poet, haunted me as I approached Chillida-Leku, the sixteenth-century caserío, or farmhouse, on the leafy outskirts of Donostia-San Sebastián, in Spain’s Basque Country. This is where the now legendary Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida (1924–2002) achieved his dream of finding a permanent home for his works from 1983 onward. His ashes rest there as well. Chillida may well be considered the father figure of Basque art during the twentieth century: After the Spanish Civil War, the man and his work