Nuria Fuster, Esculpidoras II (Sculptresses II), 2012, metal, wax, two irons, 27 1/2 x 47 1/4 x 28 3/4". From the series “Accidentes” (Accidents), 2011–.

Nuria Fuster, Esculpidoras II (Sculptresses II), 2012, metal, wax, two irons, 27 1/2 x 47 1/4 x 28 3/4". From the series “Accidentes” (Accidents), 2011–.

Nuria Fuster

Nuria Fuster, Esculpidoras II (Sculptresses II), 2012, metal, wax, two irons, 27 1/2 x 47 1/4 x 28 3/4". From the series “Accidentes” (Accidents), 2011–.

Nuria Fuster’s stylistic repertoire ranges from post-Minimalism (especially the legacy of Joseph Beuys and Robert Rauschenberg) to classical sculpture, yet she is as sensitive to the formal and narrative possibilities of quotidian objects and spaces as she is to these art-historical references. Born in Alcoy, in the southeast of Spain, in 1978, she recently moved to Berlin, where she has refined her approach to objecthood and honed a sculptural syntax that expands her vocabulary to a more installation-based practice, granting more importance to the recontextualization of objects than to their deconstruction. For this reason, her recent show “Don Quijote también esculpió el aire” (Don Quixote Also Sculpted the Air) marked a decisive step forward in her career.

Order and chaos have always been separated by a very thin line in Fuster’s work. She was once a wanderer who collected materials in order to drastically manipulate them in her studio. For example, she used to systematically deconstruct old furniture and pieces of cloth and reshape them to create pyramidal forms that stood in a slow and trembling vibration. Those works typically exuded a precarious instability, a sort of weird oscillation that made each composition look as if it were on the verge of collapse. One work in this show, Sedimentario (Sedimentary) (all works 2012), still recalls this tendency, yet opens up the path for new works that assert their historical references in more literal fashion while deeply reflecting on the poetics of the quotidian.

This becomes explicit in Esculpidoras II (Sculptresses II), in which two irons lie flat on a metal surface supported in turn by two wax pillars; the heat emanating from the irons slowly melts the wax so that the whole structure is set to break down eventually. Fuster’s most recent works are also marked by unexpected relations between the use of clearly everyday objects such as the two irons (here standing for themselves instead of being fragmented components of a bigger and more formally complex structure) and by a heightened attention to the role of language.

In such works, objects function as mischievous signs, playing tautological games that echo the practice of such artists as Broodthaers or Baldessari. Their significations can be as basic as the unequivocal fact that heat spouts from irons and melts wax. There is an obvious allusion to decay and precariousness that relates to Fuster’s previous works, but her ultimate take on self-reflexivity is as simple and yet as sophisticated as the formal strategies she employs. This is emphasized by the installation that shares the exhibition’s title, which features four elements: a vacuum cleaner, a small figure representing the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance himself, a fan, and a crushed piece of steel. The stream of air from the vacuum cleaner turns the fan under Don Quixote’s attentive scrutiny, an image that evokes the windmills in one of the Ingenious Gentleman’s most famous adventures. This explicit reference is playful, but Fuster invites us to look deeper, focusing on the conceptual specificity of a set of objects (now left untouched, rather than manipulated, as might have been the case in Fuster’s earlier work) instead of on their formal aspects. In Untitled, two stools support another horizontal piece of crushed steel, a hint of the architectonics in Esculpidoras II, with its evocation of two columns supporting an entablature. But this work is also an ironic deification of the objet trouvé, with both tools being remnants of the idea of a glorifying pedestal as they witness Fuster’s new concerns about the existing forms she has in hand.

Javier Hontoria