Juan Zamora

Galería Moriarty

In looking at the drawings of the young Spanish artist Juan Zamora, one could easily think that comics are a major source of inspiration for his schemes of figures, forms, and situations. Yet on the occasion of this exhibition, Zamora has stated that he is neither drawn to nor an avid reader of comic books. If comics are not a direct influence for him, one must conclude that the language of that medium has become so pervasive that, for many artists, it is not even necessary to pay any serious attention to them to undergo their influence. In any case, Zamora’s earlier drawings, often composed with a single stroke, evoke automatic writing: The legacy of Surrealism seems to fuse with the pervasive background of cartoons.

Like many other artists today (Marcel Dzama and his Royal Art League colleagues from Winnipeg, for instance), Zamora bases his work on simple yet highly expressive drawing using just a few syntactic elements. Only ten years ago, this sort of work—which is now commonplace—was a rarity in art galleries. As with photography and video, the market has had to accept that such work has its rewards. The figures in the works Zamora recently showed at Moriarty under the title “Cuando aire y nubes” (When Air and Clouds) are sexually ambiguous, yet often display an amorous or erotic connection to one another; they evoke the figures of Henry Darger or of Spanish artist Luis Salaberría. Occasionally even made without the pencil being lifted from the paper, the drawn line is what sustains Zamora’s figures; small areas of color render the scenes more vivid.

Along with his drawings on paper, Zamora has been making animated drawings; twelve were included in this exhibition, among them Tocándose el cerebro (Touching His Brain), 2008; Soplo (Blow), 2008; the more ambitious Proyección de árbol (Tree Projection), 2009; and Nube-cerebro (Cloud-Brain), 2009, an installation that consists of a wall drawing, a cutout mobile, and a lit candle throwing off a projected glow. These works attempt to effect a synthesis between a very basic technology—pencil or charcoal drawing—and more sophisticated ones. Though the figures in these pieces are in motion, they are also strangely static, as they don’t seem to be doing anything in particular. Here, the medium seems to be more important than the intention. These works reflect an artist’s need to adapt to a market willing to accept simple practices, as long as they are eventually transformed into something more spectacular or overtly original. Zamora should remember what William Butler Yeats wrote: “[T]here’s more enterprise / In walking naked.”

Pablo Llorca

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.