Barcelona

Gabriel

Galería Fernando Alcolea

It is useful to reflect upon the reciprocal nature of the relationship of the work of art to the artist when one confronts the enigma evoked by the production of Gabriel, whose theoretical discourse is inseparable from his artistic practice. The artist necessarily asserts the autonomy of “form,” through every physical occupation of space that shapes and objectifies the flux of appearances. So, under these conditions, and in order to rule out any finality other than his own, he tolerates only “formless” form. Interest in Gabriel’s work resides precisely in his resistance to imitation, under whatever guise, and in his renunciation of the quest for beauty, as foreign to his concept of art as a pathway to knowledge. In this respect, for him, art (or rather its formal materialization) is not an end in itself but is a means to a knowledge that compels him to reject any identification of the artist with his production. This does not, however, stop him from saying that “art endeavors to represent our own existential eventuality, whereas matter is represented through its phenomenon.” At his best, Gabriel is a kind of demiurge, as well as an artisan, who makes form appear while ignoring the frontier between being and nonbeing. For Gabriel, everything is unconditionally possible. Untroubled by relativity or by impermanence, he is concerned only with learning how passive matter takes shape and what gives being its own material existence.

“Art” is reposited as form. It is here that Gabriel employs all kinds of secondhand objects with various uses, the values of which are determined not by their abundance or by their scarcity, but by their “form.” In this exhibition he employs glass, water, iron rods, electrical cables, pins, steel, lead, burned wood, snakeskin, rubber, and inner tubes as his raw materials to take disembodied images from the landscape of memory and transpose them into the landscape of visible “things.”

Gabriel’s transgressive appropriations are informed by a theory of the primordial power of natural materials similar to that of Mario Merz. In this context, “things” are understood as a means of making abstraction materially accessible. In contemplating his art, we find that Gabriel’s practice is unusual with respect to the way he articulates the relationship of word to image: he treats the conjunction of each title and work as a newly objectified reality. Upon a limited base—from what has already acquired an embodied identity—Gabriel realizes a limitlessness that time, in turn, subordinates to the finite.

Gabriel’s viewpoint has affinities with the conceptual purity of Minimalism while at the same time it is full of cultural references and involuntary associations. His esthetic originates in the platonic doctrines of knowledge and the transmigration of souls, and it evolves via his materializations. The ambiguity of these works and the tension and energy they accumulate can only be liberated through form. Nucli Divers (Disperse nucleus, 1991), one of the most complex recent pieces, exemplifies his concentrated images that join the unique and the multiple.

Menene Gras Balaguer

Translated from the Spanish by Erica Clifton.