Joaquín Jesús Sánchez

  • Galli, Hocker (Stool), 1989/1998, acrylic on cardboard, 48 × 33 7⁄8".


    While preparing the Eleventh Berlin Biennale, 2020, one of its curators, Agustín Pérez Rubio, stumbled on an artist’s book by Galli, leading to her inclusion in the exhibition. Born in 1944, Galli is a painter who rubbed shoulders with the Neue Wilde, or German neo-expressionists, and whose works have drawn little attention in recent decades. One result of her recent “rediscovery” was “Cross Section 1987–2009,” which assembled a group of small- and medium-format works, mostly executed in acrylic on cardboard. Their imagery abounds with domestic objects (mostly cups) and misshapen bodies in

  • Fuentesal Arenillas, Untitled (Familia), 2022, iroko wood, sapele, pine, mahogany, iron, vinegar, chipboard, canvas, cardboard. 47 1⁄4 × 110 1⁄4 × 18 1⁄2". Photo: David Zarzoso.

    Fuentesal Arenillas

    In southern Spain, old houses have two doors. The first one opens onto the street; the second, located a few feet farther back, opens into the house interior. The vestibule between the two, which is both public and private, is known as a casapuerta—literally, house door. It is an interstitial space, a place of transition but also of shelter, where acquaintances (visitors) and strangers (passersby taking shelter from the rain, perhaps) wait. It is not inconsequential that this small place, which is and is not home, is named with a hybrid, almost contradictory word.

    Casapuerta” was the title that

  • Joaquín Torres-García, Conejo (Rabbit), 1928, painted wood (two pieces), 3 1/2 x 5 1/8 x 1".
    picks December 05, 2022

    Joaquín Torres-García

    In the early 1920s, in the midst of a personal and creative crisis, the artist Joaquín Torres-García wrote in his diary, “I am not going to paint anymore. I am going to put all my painting into toys. What children do interests me more than anything else. I am going to play with them.”

    Influenced by the pedagogical currents of Maria Montessori and Friedrich Fröbel, as well as by his own life experience—the son of a carpenter, Torres-García earned his living as a teacher—the artist began to design toys in the late 1910s. Small, colorful, and wooden, the figurines tend to be crudely wrought and

  • Maider López, Hierba en Movimiento, tractor, 2022, single channel video, 6’ 48’’. Installation view.
    picks May 18, 2022

    Maider López

    In a tiny village in central Spain, a farmer moved a mound of cut grass on the back of his tractor. Eclipsing the vehicle, the large load appeared to “walk” on its own, gently wobbling along like a creature from a fairy tale.

    A chance encounter with such a scene inspired “Hierba en movimiento” (Moving Grass), an exhibition at Espacio Mínimo by the Basque artist Maider López. In the first of three videos, Hierba en Movimiento, tractor (Moving Grass, tractor, all works cited 2021), we watch a pile of cut grass—the tractor hidden under its bulk—making its way through a grove of oak trees and down

  • Berta Cáccamo, Descrición do día (Description of the day), 1988–90, mixed medium on canvas and board, each piece 27 1/2 x 21 1/2".
    picks April 25, 2022

    Berta Cáccamo

    After living in Barcelona, Paris, and Rome, Berta Cáccamo returned in the mid-1990s to her native Galicia, where she made “Horas felices” (Happy Hours), a series of one-line abstractions in which a thick, sinuous brushstroke expands across each canvas, folding in on itself like an intestine. The series lends its title to this exhibition, which brings together paintings by the artist dated from the late 1980s to 2018 alongside notebooks, sketches, annotations, and a collection of knickknacks and discarded objects.

    These years map a trajectory, from the discreet informalism of her early output, to

  • View of Suzi Ferrer’s Portrait in Six Dimensions, 1973, Acetate ink and mixed media on Plexiglas, 60 x 19 x 1/4".
    picks February 15, 2022

    Suzi Ferrer

    In a passage from Velázquez, the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset mocks those who think that history is shaped like a reef, as if information were washed up by the tide. Undoubtedly, this paradigm suits the status quo: Rather than comply with dominant interests, the historiographical canon is established through a—presumably impartial—process of sedimentation.

    However, the manner in which the image of an era is formed or in which forgotten artists are recovered is much more arbitrary and even haphazard. This retrospective seeks to shed new light on the decade-long career of Suzi Ferrer (1940–2006),

  • View of “Fractura.”
    picks January 23, 2022

    Freddie Mercado

    Uncanny valley is a term coined to describe the feeling of discomfort generated by androids that look too much like human beings; The more they resemble us, the more they repulse us. Although popularized by recent advances in robotics, this effect is nothing new. Almost-humans have terrorized us for centuries, from the golem of Prague to Frankenstein’s monster.

    The doubles that Freddie Mercado has installed in La Casa de Los Contrafuertes—a selection of elaborate costumes complete with masks bearing the artist’s features—provoke a similar discomfort. These other Freddies veer toward the histrionic,

  • View of “Gonçalo Sena,” 2021. From left: Circular Spaces #14, 2020; To Intrude on Nature’s Way, 2021.

    Gonçalo Sena

    The Western tradition has some ineluctable images of water. One is the melancholic Psalm 137 (“By the rivers of Babylon”), which was set to music by Palestrina, Victoria, and Verdi, among many others. Another comes from the myth of Narcissus, whose fondness for looking at his reflection in a lake had tragic consequences. Then there are the material manifestations of our feelings about water: for instance, in the fountains in the palace gardens of the Alhambra or Versailles, which demonstrate architects’ mastery over the forces of nature.

    For his exhibition “Circular Spaces,” Portuguese artist

  • Robert Filliou, Optimistic Box #1, 1968, wooden box, two printed labels, stone, 4 3⁄8 × 4 3⁄8 × 4 1⁄8".

    Robert Filliou and Wilfredo Prieto

    “The play of art,” said Hans-Georg Gadamer in a 1973 lecture of that title, “is a mirror that through the centuries constantly arises anew, and in which we catch sight of ourselves in a way that is often unexpected or unfamiliar: what we are, what we might be, and what we are about.” I remembered this quote while visiting “Un encuentro improbable” (An Unlikely Encounter), an exhibition that staged a chance meeting between Robert Filliou (1926–87) and Wilfredo Prieto (born 1978).

    On the surface, this was a modest exhibition. It featured small pieces made with basic materials: a cardboard box with

  • Ugo Mulas, Lucio Fontana - L’Attesa, 1965,gelatin silver print on baritated paper on board,18 x 13".
    picks July 15, 2021

    Ugo Mulas

    Dante, Borges claimed, believed that there is a moment in the life of each man that encapsulates that life’s entirety. Ugo Mulas’s photographs of some of the last century’s most famous (and mostly male) artists, gathered here in the late Italian portraitist’s first solo exhibition in Madrid, may seem to confirm this belief. His theatrical black-and-white pictures flatter us with illusions of intimacy, as though we were having a friendly encounter with his legendary sitters or permitted to observe them at the instant the muse strikes. The pictures also, of course, flatter the artists, whom we

  • Rafael Tur Costa, untitled, 1987, graphite, colored pencil, and paper on canvas, 51 1⁄8 × 38 1⁄4".

    Rafael Tur Costa

    Born in 1927, Rafael Tur Costa spent his entire life in Ibiza. There, having survived the Spanish Civil War, he studied at its Escuela de Artes y Oficios (School of Arts and Crafts), as it was then called, but then went on to run a fabric store. Despite the insularity of the place where he lived, Tur Costa, who passed away in 2020, maintained contacts with artists who vacationed on the Balearic Islands, among them a group from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin. He also connected with the art scenes of Madrid and Barcelona. These internal and external influences were reflected in “La

  • James Casebere, Blue House on Water #2, 2019, ink-jet print, 69 1⁄2 × 48 7⁄8".

    James Casebere

    It is no accident that utopian philosophers situated their ideal societies on islands, which in the imagination appear to provide both security and solitude. But if such isolation is often portrayed as blissful—as with Taprobane in Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun (1602), for instance, or the tropical paradises that Western tourists fantasize about—it can also represent something terrible: Devil’s Island, Alcatraz, or Homer’s Aeaea, where the sorceress Circe dwelled. 

    James Casebere’s “On the Water’s Edge” featured a collection of photographs of colorful stilt houses, each an island unto