Aureli Ruis

There was a tremendously enigmatic piece in this exhibition that, perhaps, is the key to all of Aureli Ruiz’s recent work: to his resistance to making concessions, to the difficulty of the viewer’s reading. This untitled work from 1991 is a small bust, a life-size head, barely outlined and almost undefined. Its face is covered by a piece of canvas supported by two rods that elevate the cloth as if it were a tent in the desert. At the same time, those rods seem like frozen gazes, beams of light uselessly emitted from the place where the eyes of this faceless phantom should be. But nothing flows from them: without a doubt, the face is as blind as it is mute. This prosthesis proves useless. The desperation with which it is attached to the blind body reveals the distrust with which Ruiz views art. In fact, one may read that sculpture as a metaphor for art itself, or at least for the understanding of art that Ruiz declares.

All of the works have a prosthetic quality, a quality of unfolding mechanisms—like eventual objectifications of the site of the gaze, projections of subjectivity in the world of things. Thus, they are like screens before which the blind and mute face of a subject stands, questioning the works, but discovering nothing in them.

Confidence in representation vanishes. Another piece in the exhibition, untitled, 1991, for example, was an unfinished and empty frame that only showed itself as a useless place. The rest of the canvas-and-rod structures, which organize their tensions as place, as sculpture, provide no solutions that generate meaning. There is no representation. The only access that Ruiz’s sculpture allows is that of allegory, and like all contemporary allegory, it is an allegory of allegory, an allegory of itself, of the work of art itself.

We can learn through this exhibition that what Ruiz thinks about art is where he places it. As a prosthesis, an appendage to the subject, it offers him a screen and a room at the same time. But it is a silent screen, onto which nothing is projected except an empty form; and it is an uncomfortable room. Nothing in it—except the room itself, in the never ending cycle of its allegory—is articulated, no one dwells in it, except that empty phantom. This is the late form of the survivor, even in these times in which nothing else is uttered except a single and true useless passion: being, saying.

José Luis Brea

Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T Martin.