Begoña Montalbán

Galeria Gingko

Begoña Montalbán began her artistic career rather later than most: until a few years ago she worked as a registered nurse in a hospital. It is perhaps because she entered art school at twenty-eight that she neatly avoided passage through an artistic adolescence. Instead, when she began her career, she already knew that her work would navigate the territory that divides social convention from sensual expression.

Like many of her generation, Montalbán has fastened her gaze on the body. Rooted in wounds and corporeal functions, her work draws heavily from Surrealism—another movement for which the representation of the body was central. She shares with the Surrealists not only an iconography (she has frequently incorporated into her work mannequins and other objects that suggest anatomical parts) but also an urge to investigate invisible phenomena.

Underlining her work’s analytical character, Montalbán has called her installations “spaces for reflection,” though resolution remains elusive. She has frequently incorporated elements that evoke desire: the colors red and black; warm textures, like velvet; and various relationships between internal and external. With this exhibition, Montalbán decided—as she did in her last show—to substitute for these elements others with a more neutral appearance. She continues, however, to suggest the human body through images of the brain, the umbilical cord, and stumps that are not readily identifiable as such but that emerge from her Rorschach-blot-like paintings, which straddle the line between figuration and abstraction. To look at Montalbán’s work is, in fact, very similar to examining Rorschach tests, because the viewer is forced to conjure images, associations from limited, albeit evocative visual information. In fact Montalbán chooses, paradoxically, to represent obscurity and the unconscious through immaculate whiteness instead of darkness.

Pablo Llorca

Translated from the Spanish by Christian Viveros-Faunè.