The exhibition Campo Cerrado takes its name from the homonymous novel by Max Aub and looks to examine Spanish art in the complex and controversial 1940s, a decade that has received little attention and one that exists in a critical and historiographical vacuum, despite its importance in structuring modern sensibility in Spain.
The work of Erlea Maneros Zabala (Bilbao, 1977) analyses the conditions and effects of image production, addressing the contexts generated and the modes of distribution. The issues raised by her work can be found in the academisation of languages of abstraction, the notion of authorship and the relationships established between handicrafts and mass production through the use of mechanical resources in production processes.
The retrospective on Cuban painter Wifredo Lam (Sagua La Grande, 1902 – Paris, 1982), organised by the Centre Pompidou, Museo Reina Sofía and Tate Modern, acknowledges the common desire to consider modernity in all its complexity and endeavours to redefine Lam’s work inside a history of international art in which he stands as a key figure.
The retrospective devoted to Ulises Carrión (San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico, 1941 – Amsterdam, 1989) explores his multifaceted artistic and intellectual work. It spans his beginnings as a young, successful and well-respected writer in Mexico, his spells in France, Germany and England between 1964 and 1972, when he sharpens his resolve to innovate in language, ending at the time he definitively settles in Amsterdam, the place where he realises a wide array of artistic, literary and cultural activation activities.
Alexandre Estrela (Lisbon, 1971) uses film and video as the core mediums in his artistic practice, which questions the materiality of the image, dialoguing with a history of experimental film, video and photography, which finds some of its symbolic evidence in the films of Marcel Duchamp, in photographs by Man Ray or cut-up narratives from Burroughs, for example.
The work of Juan Giralt (Madrid, 1940–2007) was initially self-taught in the Informalism that predominated the 1950s. A brief spell in Holland at the end of this decade enabled him to come into contact with the CoBrA group and saw him begin to shape a more personal and permeable pictorial language in a new interpretation of Figuration. This characterised his work in the 1970s and 1980s, turning him into a reference point of New Figuration in Madrid.
Andrzej Wróblewski (1927–1957) is, despite his short life, one of the most important Polish artists of the 20th century. This exhibition, the first retrospective held outside his country, enables his work to be contemplated in a way that goes beyond the reductionist clichés of socialist realism or Outsider Art, through which art from countries in the Soviet sphere of influence has been studied until recently.
Regarded as one of the most relevant contemporary artists in the field of Video art, Hito Steyerl (Munich, 1966) approaches current themes in her work, for instance the impact the proliferation of images and the use of the Internet and technology have on our lives.
In October the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía will present an exhibition devoted to Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona 1958). The output of this Catalan artist offers a conceptual reflection on the representation and perception of mediums such as painting, the object, photography, fiction, film and video.
For almost twenty years, Constant (Constant Anton Nieuwenhuys, Amsterdam, 1920 – Utrecht, 2005) realised scale models, paintings, drawings and collages displaying his concept of a nomad city of the future – New Babylon – a complex and expansive labyrinth that transformed the whole world into one sole network.
The catalogue-boxes of the Museum Abteiberg-Mönchengladbach (1967-1978)
By virtue of the renewed conceptions of art which developed in the 1960s and 1970s, museums were forced to renovate their way of presenting art works, and also their idea of what art publications could be.
Danh Vō’s (Bà Ria, Vietnam, 1975) art work subverts and plays with classic appropriation and opportunistic strategies of Western art in its approach to other cultures. His installations, sculptures, photographs and works on paper, particularly his early work, often calls on his origins and experiences, interspersing them with cultural, social, and historical references.
Nasreen Mohamedi (Karachi, 1937 – Baroda, 1990) was one of the first Indian artists to embrace abstraction, moving away from the more conventional doctrines of Indian modern art in the early decades of the 20th century. She chose non-figuration, an artistic practice marginalised at that time by independent India, which was essentially dominated by an anthropomorphous aesthetic and academic realism determined by art schools from the colonial period.
The work of Ree Morton (Ossining, NY, 1936 – Chicago, 1977) can be found in the specific art scene in the USA around 1970, characterised by a strong reaction to Abstract Expressionism, in what Lucy Lippard defined as “Eccentric Abstraction”.