Cristina Iglesias

Palacio de Velázquez

Madrid’s Palacio de Velázquez, a former palace located in the center of a park, was an appropriate site for Cristina Iglesias’ traveling retrospective, given her predilection for playing games with interior versus exterior spaces. The show’s centerpiece, for example, was Untitled (Hanging titled ceiling), 1997, an enormous sculpture that was suspended from the ceiling in the museum’s main gallery, dramatically reconfiguring the space. One felt a powerful urge to reach up and try to touch this hanging platform in an effort to determine how it was made. Closer examination revealed a surface formed of iron, resin, and powdered stone, modeled to suggest a stretch of earth covered with mushrooms and foliage, although it also resembled an ocean floor with shells, fossils, and coral.

Untitled (Eucalyptus Leaves Room), 1994–96, and Untitled (Bamboo Forest Room), 1995–97, aluminum pieces that appeared in rooms on either side of the main space, also invoked the natural world. Looking closely, one detected traces of leaves, branches, and tree trunks, in patterns that were both symmetrical and suggestive of chaotic growth. The show also contained a series of complex and ambiguous photographic images printed on silk, and a series of photographs on copper. These works, which seemed at first to be mysterious landscapes or patterns in light and shadow, turned out to depict Iglesias’ sculptural maquettes. Most remarkable was the use of silk, a material that is rich not only in texture, but also in metaphorical associations.

The first of the remaining rooms contained awning-shaped sculptures carved out of alabaster. The installation of these pieces highlighted the material’s translucence and rich texture. In an adjacent area, objects formed of colored polyester or blue and amber glass generated an inviting environment bathed in tinted light. The titles of the works in this highly subjective series include the names of the cities in which the sculptures were first exhibited, such as Berlin or Venice.

The show also contained a series of works containing openings into which one could peer to view tapestries. Like remembered landscapes or illustrations in a rare book, the romantic and sensual images in the tapestries included hunting scenes, a floral pattern, and a grove with a flock of birds. The show closed with a series of works titled “Celosias” (Jalousies, 1997), large, rigid nets made of interwoven symbols that formed gridded walls crisscrossing the space. The bronze and copper powder on these labyrinthine constructions endowed them with a grainy texture reminiscent of sand or silk. The nets were installed in a way that was meant to indicate a house, windows, doors, and passageways. Iglesias also intended the forms that the nets comprised to suggest a text, but this was a text that could not be read, only imagined.

Alexandre Melo

Translated from the Portuguese by Sheila Glaser.