Mayte Vieta

Galería Salvador Díaz

In 1990, when Mayte Vieta was barely eighteen and still a student at the Massana Art School in Barcelona, she took part in an exhibition called “Al raso” (No shelter), which provided an interesting look at the art being created by young Spanish artists at the time. Of all the works that were exhibited (and many of the artists were already quite well known), Vieta’s three pieces were the most compelling. Simple but highly atmospheric, they suggested dramatic, even violent situations involving the occult.

After that show, Vieta’s public exhibitions were few and far between. She left Barcelona, where she had been living, to take some time to meditate on her work, and her artmaking was interrupted for a period of two years, when her mother underwent a long and serious illness. In 1997, however, she contributed two installations to a show at Barcelona’s Sala Metronóm, beautiful, highly suggestive works that incorporate an image of the sea, a motif that recurs throughout Vieta’s work. Inviting multiple readings from the viewer, these installations dealt with memory and its transformation.

For her first exhibition in Madrid, Vieta chose to build a quasi-narrative around the feelings—ranging from serenity to sadness—that are aroused in her by her mother. The first of these, Los bañistas (The bathers, all works 1997), which includes two photographs of a group of people bathing in the Mediterranean, exudes happiness, tranquility, and sensual pleasure. The second, No Olvido ni un instante so presencia (I can’t forget her presence even for an moment), consists of the bust of a woman formed of paraffin as well as a sculpture of two intertwined hands. The wax bust depicts Vieta’s mother, and the hands represent those of the artist and her mother. By creating installations that point to real human beings and their desires, Vieta demonstrates her sense that art should attempt to freeze moments of pleasure, however fruitless the battle may be. In the final installation, a beautiful photograph, depicting the sea at dusk, was placed between two mirrors that extended the image into infinity. The most atmospheric work in the show, this piece fully explored its author’s melancholic vision.

Pablo Llorca

Translated from the Spanish by Christian Viveros-Fauné.