Critics’ Picks

Vítor Mejuto, “sepulcro vacio” (empty grave), 2018, acrylic on resinated canvas, dimensions variable.

Vítor Mejuto, “sepulcro vacio” (empty grave), 2018, acrylic on resinated canvas, dimensions variable.


Vítor Mejuto

Calle Lope de Vega 5
April 3–May 17, 2018

For centuries, the education of painters revolved around scrutinizing masterpieces in order to grasp how their makers resolved problems of a purely technical nature. No one looks at painting as mercilessly, and with as little sense of metaphor, as a painter. In “Pintor en la corte,” (Painter in the Court), Vítor Mejuto revisits Diego Velázquez, Antonello da Messina, Jaime Serra, Francisco Goya, and Titian, among others. Mejuto’s small-format paintings are concise and honed, to say nothing of elegant, reproductions of the geometric aspects of some of those masters’ works.

Despite its schematic proposal, the show is friendly, even domestic, because the images distributed around the gallery are familiar. Particularly suggestive is the 2018 series “sepulcro vacío” (empty grave). These works, hung in a somewhat scattered way along a wall, explore how different painters have treated a space miraculously unfilled: the gravestone and the ditch. Initially inspired by Juan de Flandes’s Resurrection of Lazarus, 1514–19, the series encompasses an assortment of tombs from over the course of art history that Mejuto has compiled. From these images, the artist has created paintings that are either imitations, interpretations, or inventions.

Viewers embark on a journey to decipher the fragments in Mejuto’s paintings: a swath of robe, a wedge of building, a piece of brocade. The small canvases, like lost puzzle pieces, conjure memories of complete masterpieces. Abounding with citations and suggestions, the exhibition reveals the contemporariness of the well-known images that form the basis of Western art. It is with good reason, then, that a number of titles reference burials and resurrections. Each generation pays, in its fashion, its debt to its ancestors.

Translated from Spanish by Janie Brodie.