There are exhibitions that always remind me of Eliot Weinberger’s way of writing. Maybe it’s because Something elemental, published a decade ago, an essay that stretches the limits between narrative and poetry so much that there are those who say that more than a writer he seems like a mountebank. When Weinberger writes an article, he e-mails the English version to friends who in turn forward it to other people who in turn translate it into multiple languages. He makes 30 submissions and his texts appear on 200 web pages, turning the writing into a virus. His method consists in creating constellations of surprising associations, in putting the focus on the simultaneity of a collage made with different theories and tests.
It happens watching the exhibition Double skin, by Daniel Jacoby (1985) and Darío Villalba (1939-2018) in the gallery MaisterraValbuena. What a pirouette. Villalba is known for its mythical Encapsulated roses, those that Warhol described as “pop with soul” and that gave him international recognition. In 1970 they wore in the Spanish pavilion at the Venice Biennale: sculptures with a transparent and pink methacrylate pomp that housed characters in their extreme state. For the artist, they were “pathological toys for adults.” For his friend Pierre Restany, the art critic who championed New Realism in the 1960s, they are “a chill to the core.” It still appears today when visiting this Madrid gallery.
In a porous dialogue, he is accompanied by sculptures with T-shirts and socks by Daniel Jacoby. Like Villalba, he also explores the sculptural potential of the body, eliminating all kinds of body worship. Jacoby pulls cultural references from his native Lima and one of those stores that sell cotton garments that have punctured on the walls, stretching them and making their textile quality noticeable, and creating a kind of tapestry throughout the space of the store . This is how traditional and humble shops are, without models or mannequins, giving full prominence to the garment. In a very intelligent way, the artist intertwines here the sensuality of the formalism and the sophistication of the content. There is in him a flirtation between game and merchandise, and in his tirades time also stands still. Jacoby is 36 years old. Villalba died at 79. And the generational link is undeniable.
On The Ryder Projects, Antoni Hervàs is not far from those signs that show the mysticism that resides in the everyday. His are narratives close to popular culture that, in the hands of the artist, become desires and fantasies that inhabit dreams. That’s Copacabana: an exhibition but also, a spectacular universe full of spectacle that shines in the freedom that only the margins, the clandestine and the fleeting allow. Copla, cabaret, mythology and transformism come together on a large papier-mâché and cardboard stage squeezing memories of other times. A cumulative work in which through excess it reaches a unit. From the anecdote he creates an infinite world of associations.
If something fascinates about this exhibition is how the artist prowls through the experiment with alternative formats to the conventional idea of museum and artistic object. Also for the things that have been forgotten. His is an elastic drawing that allows him to expand a story that connects realities and moments that occurred in different times and spaces. In each project, he tries to push the lines to the limit so that they flirt with performance, dance, comics, illustration and, above all, music. The chance find in the manuscript trash In search of the lost pussy, by cartoonist and singer Lluís Miracle, opened a fascinating window for him. There appeared the cabaret of the seventies and his interest in the song, how transvestites used it as a political weapon and the absolute mutability of language. Voices like that of Gilda Love singing a story of pain that dances among the colors and to the rhythm of the castanets.
Also the work of María Jerez (Madrid, 1978) moves between choreography, cinema and visual arts. The exhibition he presents in Twin Gallery, the first in this Madrid space, is full of prequels of the performance The Stain (2019), which the artist produced in collaboration with a carpenter, a baker, a painter, a composer, a lighting designer and five live art artists. Together they posed a common knowledge space. Everything was intermingled there in a promiscuous way. An unstable space where entities of a different nature coexisted and evolved in a choreography with constant encounters with the idea of the “other”. In the exhibition a large patch of color invades the space where various elements coexist in a promiscuous way. A sound thread adds strangeness to the whole set: a piece of clay baked with bread sounds like rubbing fabrics while a brioche sweats paint and whistles. Oddly related and disparate bodies intersect over and over again, like Eliot Weinberger’s articles. That aimless walk that involves an opening of spaces. What he said about Walter Benjamin that all great literary works found a genre or undo it.
‘Double skin’. Daniel Jacoby and Darío Villalba. MaisterraValbuena Gallery. Madrid. Until June 19.
‘Copacabana’. Antoni Hervàs. The Ryder Projects. Madrid. Until June 5th.
‘The stain’. Maria Jerez. Twin Gallery. Madrid. Until July 3.