Cristina Iglesias

Galeria Marga Paz

Formally, the esthetic language of Cristina Iglesias, a member of the new generation of Spanish sculptors, has evolved gradually, without radical changes, since she first began to exhibit in the early ’80s. Her repertory of materials has grown from the early work’s cement and iron to include glass, which appeared in 1986, and more recently weavings, wood, such metals as copper and zinc, and other additions, all of which have contributed to a diversification of her expressive and technical resources. Without losing any of its former ambiguity, Iglesias’ sculpture now incorporates direct references to nature and architecture. Furthermore, these references are introduced by means traditionally considered foreign to sculpture—through other artistic techniques, such as tapestry and etching, which admit into her three-dimensional art a whole range of images more directly related to two-dimensional work. These images complement and reinforce Iglesias’ sculpture in an increasingly complex synthesis.

If at first Iglesias’ work vaguely reminds the viewer of classical sculpture, its allusions gradually seem to shift from evocations of the human body to insinuations of natural phenomena (for the two-dimensional images are fragmentary views of landscapes) and architecture. In Sín título M.M/1 (Untitled M.M/1, 1987), a curving broken arch, of manually-worked reinforced cement set with glass blocks, is supported by the wall and by two dark-surfaced industrial iron beams rising from the floor. Echoing the concrete form, a freestanding iron-and-copper sheet, also curved, stands adjoining. The arch brings to mind both vegetation—perhaps drooping tree branches trailing in water—and architecture. Using the wall as a support, either explicitly or implicitly, this and other sculptures suggest both constructed and natural forms.

Combining nature and architecture in this way, Iglesias manages to shape other spaces within the larger space of the gallery. One is induced to penetrate the work’s vaulted enclosures, or to let one’s gaze wander down one of its perspectives—through the eye of a bridge or tunnel, for example, and toward the light of a horizon. But these latter spaces are purely optical, illusionistic, unenterable. They are set on flat planes, sometimes sheets of metal etched with photographically derived images, sometimes old tapestries. Elsewhere, metal may be left bare, an object in itself, with no image applied to it. This combination of two- and three-dimensional space, conceptually the most interesting aspect of Iglesias’ work, draws the viewer into a polymorphous universe.

Some of the sculptures function as wall reliefs. Sín título M.M/5, 1987, consists of an etched plate of zinc set against the wall, framed on two sides with dissimilar lengths of wood and on a third side with a pair of iron sheets that project perpendicularly outward. The combination of the etched image (a large stone arch in the foreground of a landscape) with Iglesias’ sculptural techniques results in a pictorial space that seems to lead into the wall at the same time that the object as a whole emerges from the wall and toward the viewer. The work establishes a plurality of spaces, of physical and illusionistic presences, of austere declarative materials and ambiguously denotative ones.

Iglesias’ work juxtaposes oppositional elements such as open and closed, straight and curved, handmade and industrially produced, regular and irregular, opaque and translucent, ambiguous and direct. The relationships it sets up between these dualities are not simple, but at its best it keeps them all in balance. And the work’s conceptual and formal structures have not developed gratuitously or impulsively, but have obeyed the demands of an evolution now full of possibilities and of the potential for discovery.

Aurora García

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.