Critics’ Picks

José Díaz, Signal, 2018, oil on linen, 77 x 60”.

Madrid

José Díaz

The Goma
Calle del Fúcar 12
November 15, 2018–January 19, 2019

In his previous exhibitions, José Díaz’s main inspirations were the night and the city. This was because while he was painting, he moonlighted as a bartender at night. The city appeared in his work as a series of automated roads that spanned the canvases. Now, in “La mañana,” Díaz repositions the theme around awakening: His new large-scale abstractions, all from 2018, are composed and hued groggily, their associations drifting toward bleary eyes, the scrape of a toothbrush against teeth, a half-remembered dream.

In this show, Díaz has enriched his palette with blues and grays as well as widened and emphasized his color daubs. He builds these surfaces with large swathes of color—earthy teals, aquas, dreary browns—full of subtleties of depth and gradient and often interrupted by looped motions. These gestures, while present in previous works, now seem to carry a more precise intention. Díaz has created a recognizable and personal pictorial universe, one that has expanded since his last exhibitions while maintaining an admirable formal coherence. Díaz's oils brim with a spontaneity that belies their involvedness, as well as a playfulness evidenced by doodle-like mark-making and irreverent titles including Sensodyne and Signal: toothpaste brands. Díaz conjures the transition from sleep to wakefulness through both refined painterly contrasts and an arrangement that leads viewers toward increasingly simplified forms—a route augmented by a literal fog machine in the gallery.