Madrid

Francisco Ruiz de Infante, Selva húmeda (vanitas) (Rain Forest [Vanitas]) (detail), 2014, crystal, wood, graphite, aluminum tape, video (color, sound, 4 minutes), dimensions variable.

Francisco Ruiz de Infante, Selva húmeda (vanitas) (Rain Forest [Vanitas]) (detail), 2014, crystal, wood, graphite, aluminum tape, video (color, sound, 4 minutes), dimensions variable.

Francisco Ruiz de Infante

Galería Elba Benitez

Francisco Ruiz de Infante, Selva húmeda (vanitas) (Rain Forest [Vanitas]) (detail), 2014, crystal, wood, graphite, aluminum tape, video (color, sound, 4 minutes), dimensions variable.

Francisco Ruiz de Infante is among the best Spanish artists working with moving images. As a teenager in the mid- to late 1980s, he was already making Super 8 films that evidenced his inclination for textured images, which he created with exquisite and striking attention to detail. While Ruiz de Infante’s connection to moving images has been steadfast, he moved to Paris in 1991 to study with Christian Boltanski. Since then, a sense of the theatrical and a deep feeling for material have entered his work.

For two decades, his production has brought together what he calls “clean images”—meaning unmanipulated ones in digital format—and “dirty” ones materialized in three dimensions. The formal synthesis of two extremes is the cornerstone of an oeuvre in which dichotomies such as memory and reality, absence and presence, and the material and the ephemeral figure centrally. It is by means of these elements that Ruiz de Infante suggests theatrical spaces riddled with uncertainty. Indeed, the theme that unifies his art is the sense of unease before a muddled and difficult-to-grasp reality. In this art, space and time are enmeshed to create a ceremony of confusion.

The works in Ruiz de Infante’s recent show “La línea de los ojos (The Death Line)” (The Line of the Eyes [The Death Line]) all revolve around this tension. The concise Las leyes del tránsito (reloj) (The Transition Laws [Hourglass]) (all works cited, 2014), for instance, is the projection of a sentence taken from a book by René Daumal onto two hourglasses resting on a pedestal: “In a certain way, just as the spider produces the thread it glides along, you yourselves produce the time you need in order to do all that you must do, traveling along a thread that is only visible when looking backward, but can only be used moving forward.” This piece shows how the artist uses words to generate ambiguity rather than provide explanation. Similarly, in Calendario (espasmo de garganta) (Calendar [Throat Spasm]), the collars of sixteen shirts bearing phrases from Hélène Cixous’s 2003 book L’amour du loup et autres remords (The Wolf’s Love) are laid out flat in a vitrine.

In the installation Aquí como en todo lugar (Madrid) (Here as Elsewhere [Madrid]), the same words taken from Daumal were projected in front of a wall in the middle of a corridor. Through an open window, we could see the second part of the piece: a miniature reproduction of the greenhouse in the gallery building’s courtyard. The work is perhaps an allegorical statement on the uneasy coexistence of consciousness with its unconscious other. Amanecer múltiple (Multiple Sunrise) also addresses the relationship between the subject and its double, the model and its reflection. This sophisticated multipiece work entails a kind of humble architecture, in this case a henhouse whose shadow is cast on projected images of moving clocks.

Perhaps the most intense and subtle work here was the video installation Selva húmeda (vanitas) (Rain Forest [Vanitas]). A small screen presents a loop of a sink with water gushing out of the tap. A hole in the wall next to this screen lets us see through to another room, where a large-scale projection showed a kitchen in which a man and a woman perform domestic tasks. The images were filmed at different times but the artist has given them a synthetic unity that partially glosses over internal inconsistencies, which are revealed only slowly, making even this banal domesticity seem uncanny.

Pablo Llorca

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.