Critics’ Picks

View of “Exercise in Violence.” Photo: Juan García

View of “Exercise in Violence.” Photo: Juan García


Guillermo Ros

Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM)
Calle de Guillem de Castro, 118
October 7, 2021–February 6, 2022

Guillermo Ros’s solo exhibition “An exercise in violence” launches an attack on a two-level gallery using a multilayered sculptural installation that merges material concerns with references to pop culture, video games, and manga. Drawing on the gaming concept of “lore”—the details that prop up the principle narrative—Ros builds out a self-contained battle scenario in which overgrown rats take on institutional architecture.

Within the lower gallery, the room’s original white columns have been perfectly duplicated and multiplied. Their usually smooth surfaces, however, are cracked and gnawed to reveal an interior of Buixcarró stone, a locally sourced red marble. The rock’s fleshy tone injects an unexpected vulnerability into the museum’s structure, though, as the viewer soon learns, it may also be the source of the rodents’ madness.

On the second level, visitors catch the giant cement-and-resin vermin in the act, as they chew and scratch away at the white-cube setting. Ros sees the animals as avatars of the artist, casting the battle against the institution not as a black-and-white narrative of good and evil, but rather as a living network consisting of the same material: concrete and steel. The rats appear to feed on the red marble, and yet their relentless assault on the museum supports can only bring the building crashing down on their own heads. In the south of Europe, where the cultural scene has been neglected in recent years, the installation offers a theatrical and humorous take on popular perceptions of artists and artmaking, competition, and precarity.