Critics’ Picks

View of “Álvaro Negro,” 2015–16.

Madrid

Álvaro Negro

F2 Gallery
Doctor Fourquet 28
November 14, 2015–January 9, 2016

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 points, Negro played with the relation between the motif and the picture frame. By means of his austere cadence of long shots, time makes an essential contribution to the construction of the image.

The two large paintings hung on opposite walls in the gallery—both of which, unsurprisingly, took ages to complete—are reminiscent of that film and of the tension between our experience of the real and the traps of representation. The ten-foot-wide Columna I, 2012–15, was painted using a frame of the film as a source. The landscape has thus gone through several layers of subjectivization across the years, and now exists far from any bond with the real. As if playing a reflective game, a large and dark abstraction (Cadro-Tumba, 2014) simultaneously conceals and reveals the presence of a column that is emphatic and somewhat ghostly.

The small video installation sneaks in, interfering in the tense pictorial dialogue. Slow and static scenes of architectures that lead to a landscape are projected on small granite slabs, indeed a fine formal solution that hosts Negro’s own assumptions on temporality, image-making, and the construction of perception within an irrefutable materiality.