Critics’ Picks

View of “Fermín Jiménez Landa,” 2013. From left: Sin título (efectos personales) (Untitled [Personal Effects]), 2012; Vaho (Breath), 2012.


Fermín Jiménez Landa

Galería Bacelos | Madrid
Calle Doctor Fourquet, 6
January 24 - March 29

An old car is parked in the middle of the exhibition space in Fermín Jiménez Landa’s solo show in Madrid. Its title, Vaho (Breath) (all works 2012), places us before its essential singularity: It is full of steam that only affords a glimpse of its interior. The artist doesn’t help much; he gives no hints and expects viewers to freely interpret his work. As a staunch post-Conceptualist, he might be referencing Hans Haacke’s celebrated Condensation Cube, 1963–65, but as an artist who is not in the least interested in tautology and overstatement, and whose interests lean toward the little things in life, we sense some sort of narrative at play: Perhaps the car has been taken for a spin by youngsters, or a couple is inside having fun. By means of subtle insertions into reality, Jiménez Landa creates evocative, sometimes even bewildering, deviations of meaning.

Vaho plays a key role in the exhibition and epitomizes many of the artist’s concerns, especially representing the frequently ambitious scale of his projects. However, one of the best works on show is much lower profile. Often seduced by printed matter, Jiménez Landa here uses two newspapers with thunderous headlines about the Iraq war to go from the global realm of media to the silent intimacy of the private sphere: In the work, Untitled (Scrabble Word Finder), all the letters from the headlines of both newspapers have been scrambled to form a new sentence, now framed, that reads: “Shake out crumbs from the tablecloth, love?” It is a fine example of the artist’s determination to abolish the distance between the general and the particular, between the gravity of high culture and the familiar ease of the popular.