Javier Montes

  • picks April 20, 2022

    Cabello/Carceller

    In their latest video installation, A Film With No Intention. After Chantel Akerman, the collective Cabello/Carceller pays homage to the director’s veiled autobiographical film Les rendez-vous d'Anna (1978). The duo take as a starting point one short scene in which the protagonist walks to the window of a generic-looking hotel room and pulls back a curtain to look out over a city. Akerman traps her audience in a double denial of visual expectations. She captures the character with her back to the camera, withholding both the expected view of Anna’s face and the subjective shot that would have

  • View of “Alvaro Urbano,” 2021. Photo: Pablo Gómez-Ogando.

    Alvaro Urbano

    Two or three years ago I ran into Alvaro Urbano while we were both visiting Casa Mollino in Turin. This apartment is said to have been conceived by Italian architect Carlo Mollino, who died in 1973, as a kind of tomb for his spirit to inhabit in the afterlife; its ambience is both morbid and mesmerizing. It was an appropriate place to meet: Urbano, trained as an architect, deals with the narratives and the dreamlike auras of mythical spaces of twentieth-century architecture in his sculptural installations and environments, orchestrated down to the last detail with theatrical flair. He finds

  • View of “Miquel Mont: Deseos borrados, recoloreados,” 2021.
    picks October 18, 2021

    Miquel Mont

    Miquel Mont is what one could call, in Spanish, a secreto a voces: literally, a well-known secret, a somehow elusive artist, curator, writer, and teacher whose work is nevertheless frequently mentioned with respect and interest in the art milieu. Born in Barcelona in 1963 and based in France since the late ’80s, Mont was among the painters included in the inaugural volume of the influential survey text Vitamin P, edited by Barry Schwabsky and published by Phaidon in 2002. His is an intellectually sophisticated kind of spatial, expanded painting that is, at the same time, very personal and rather

  • The gardens at Hauser & Wirth Menorca. All photos by author unless noted.
    diary July 23, 2021

    Island Cure

    UP TILL NOW, Menorca has kept a relaxed profile compared to its Balearic sisters: Majorca, which has long managed to be both aristocratic and touristy, and Ibiza, mecca of die-hard partygoers and a somehow dubious and certainly ostentatious jet-set syndicate. Menorca’s natural heritage remains intact (not a highway to be found), attracting a particular breed of enlightened cosmopolitans not often seen in re-afters (that truly great Ibizan contribution to contemporary culture). Think Hockney rather than Guetta or Beckham when someone nonchalantly mentions having just seen David.

    Hauser & Wirth

  • Gerda Wegener, Lili med fjerkost (Lili with a Feather Duster), 1920, oil on canvas, 31 1/8 × 23 1/4". From “Moral Dis/Order: Art and Sexuality in Europe Between the Wars.”

    “Moral Dis/Order”

    “Moral Dis/Order: Art and Sexuality in Europe Between the Wars” maneuvers with confidence and authority through a problematic and potentially swampy terrain: the correlate that the new sexual isms, defined and classified in Europe from the end of the nineteenth century onward, found in the artistic isms during the golden age of the European avant-gardes in France, Germany, England, and Spain between the two World Wars.

    Curator Juan Vicente Aliaga has based this ambitious survey on his decades of pioneering scholarly work on queer and gender studies both in Spain and abroad and on his curatorial

  • View of “La pintura entre extremos,” 2020–21.
    picks February 03, 2021

    Juan Giralt

    Juan Giralt (1940–2007) was an essential but elusive figure of the generation of painters that undertook the aesthetic renewal and rupture of Spanish painting during the democratic transition in the mid ’70s, after Franco’s death. In 2015, his work was the subject of a comprehensive retrospective cocurated by Carmen Giménez and Manuel Borja-Villel at the Museo Reina Sofía. This rediscovery continues with this show focusing on the last twenty years of his production.

    Its display, both playful and carefully staged, cleverly covers the gallery’s big, white, aseptic walls with works of different

  • Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, Promised Lands, 2015–18, video, color, sound, 20 minutes. From “El sauce ve de cabeza la imagen de la garza” (The Willow Sees the Heron’s Image Upside Down).

    “El sauce ve de cabeza la imagen de la garza”

    “Utopias, which incidentally are a European invention, are almost invariably settler colonies. Achieving utopia involves going to a place where other people already live and displacing them,” says Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa in her video Promised Lands, 2015–18. She is one of the twenty-eight artists included in “El sauce ve de cabeza la imagen de la garza” (The Willow Sees the Heron’s Image Upside Down), curated by Catalina Lozano. (The show’s poetic title is taken from a haiku by Bashō by way of Chris Marker’s 1983 film Sans Soleil.)

    In Isla, 2009, a video by Gilda Mantilla and Raimond Chaves, the

  • Elena Alonso, Diseño para un cuerpo voluptuoso (3), 2020, mixed media on paper, 75 x 54".
    picks July 06, 2020

    Elena Alonso

    In her first solo show outside of Spain, Elena Alonso condenses the main concerns of her hybrid practice (halfway between painting and sculpture, ornament and architecture) by playing off of the venue’s four central pillars. Two of them, joined by means of a U-curve at the base, become a humorously awkward gallery bench. The other two merge into a kind of plinth that seems to rest, or about to glide over, a set of walnut spheres and ovoids polished until they appear almost fleshy and soft—examples of the technical facility on display since her first shows and her site-specific interventions at

  • A sculpture from the canceled 2020 Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain, wearing an improvised mask. Photo: John McKenna / Alamy.
    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

  • ARCO party.
    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, Naufrágio (Shipwreck) (detail), 2019, mixed media, 70 7⁄8 × 47 5⁄8 × 24".

    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,

  • Ceesepe, El día que muera Bombita (The day that Bombita dies), 1983, chinese ink, acrylic, gouache and collage on paper, 26 x 20".
    picks July 31, 2019

    Ceesepe

    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