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José Díaz

The Goma
Calle del Fúcar 12
September 15–October 29

José Díaz, Unisex, 2016, oil on canvas, 63 1/4 x 51".

Since its beginnings, the pictorial world of José Diaz’s work has been deeply imbued with both historical references and a recognition of the digital age’s ardent circulation of images. His subject is the city and, more specifically, the experience of his hometown, Madrid. It is a longtime point of reference in his abstract output and one that has evoked issues as varied as Spain’s Baroque tradition and the smoke-stained tunnels of the city’s ring road. The once dark and densely layered surfaces of older paintings give way now to an unprecedented clarity. His city is still his backdrop, but his current practice—rooted not so much in materials as in data—is closer to the flow of the spontaneous than to the weight of the inherited.

A half dozen new paintings on display convey a sense of immediacy, with abstract strokes relentlessly forming images that seem loosely attached to their canvas surfaces, as if eventfully performing against some neutral background. They derive from Diaz’s airy touch. They form and deform as he systematically adds and subtracts, perhaps evoking parcours in a twenty-first-century city where nothing prevails, where everything can be eroded by the slightest breeze. If rootlessness defines contemporary life, it also underpins a pictorial practice that privileges action over results, gerunds over past participles, language over concept.

Pink stains flash across the canvas in many of the works. They refer to the frantic emergence of digital paraphernalia in daily life: neon streetlights, or perhaps the path one walks as recorded by a GPS-driven phone app. The works also touch upon Diaz’s biography, as they portray frenetic estrangement in a city that ultimately remains his very own.

Javier Hontoria


Signal - Center for Contemporary Art
Monbijougatan 17H
September 16–November 6

Dana DeGiulio, Syntax for Queen Lear, 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Consensus is an exhibition in the middle of an uneasy break––the way someone might, midsentence, struggle to find a word. Upon entering, one comes to a kind of pause that takes the show past the limits of saying something: By not perspicuously speaking, it says volumes. Raha Raissnia filmed everyday life in East Harlem with a concealed camera to make Longing, 2015. By transferring the unsteady footage to 16 mm, then cutting it up, collaging it, and having collaborator Panagiotis Mavridis compose a deep, ambient sound track, Raissnia has created a preternatural portrait of the neighborhood. Katinka Bock’s series of sculptures “Zarba Lonsa,” 2015, makes use of verlan, the French slang that inverses syllables, in its title. The word verlan is itself an example of this, a turning around of the syllables in l’envers, meaning “the inverse.” The piece was based on exchanging goods with shopkeepers in the suburbs north of Paris: For example, Bock would offer something to a butcher in exchange for a piece of meat, which she would fold in ceramic and fire. The meat burning up in the kiln left an aperture in the ceramic, a trace of the trade. Dana DeGiulio’s Syntax for Queen Lear, 2016, is a multitude of fragments, cut-up images, and tape installed on both sides of a wall. Coming close to some kind of writing, or musical notation, it remains tantalizingly illegible. It makes up no constellation, no single image––precisely what the exhibition as whole grapples with. Sometimes a show may function outside the comfortable clarity of themes and instead leave enticing impressions.

Theodor Ringborg

Deniz Gül

The Pill
Ayvansaray Mahallesi Mürselpaşa Caddesi 181 Balat
September 21–November 20

Deniz Gül, Loyelow Fields, 2016, concrete, neon, sugar, sulfuric acid, found objects, 15' x 10' x 12".

The tenuous relationship between text and art is at the heart of Deniz Gül’s exhibition “Loyelow.” Titled the same, Gül’s book published this year—perhaps best defined as a novella—provides both an anchor for and a point of departure from the objects in the gallery space. The show, which ends with a short film, is held together by a shared potential of movement. The familiar green garden hose set on the floor, a semitransparent sink holding water, the generic blue tiles climbing up the wall, all share similar associations, forming a network between and among them. The installation placed in the center of the exhibition, Loyelow Fields (all works 2016) is a mesh of things that once were—cement casts of objects such as toy cars or shoes serve to remind one of the gap between an object’s image and its physical presence.

In the video Stardust, an antihero confronts an excavator that moves back and forth. Just like the man in the image, the viewer is fixed in place, experiencing the pain of this character’s immobility. The young man, looking at the violent movements of the machine, turning the earth literally inside out, appears to be frozen in a moment of indecision, wanting to move but not being able to. The opposite of the possibilities symbolized by the objects, the video pulls in another direction, making obvious the all too familiar failure of individual resistance in present-day Istanbul. But the latent potential of the individual, who just needs to be present until the sensational fictions wear off, is the remaining hope of Turkey following the attempted coup d’état.

Merve Unsal