The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía offers this retrospective exhibition, the first of its kind in a European institution, of the remarkable drawings by Martín Ramírez (Tepatitlán de Morelos, Mexico, 1895 - Auburn, USA, 1963), considered one of the most notable masters of self-taught art in the 20th century. Ramirez, interned in numerous California psychiatric wards, produced some astonishing work with pictorial materials he himself made. His oeuvre explores the unique iconography that alludes to the bizarre nature between two worlds - the origin of rural and indigenous Mexico and the destination of the USA in a process of full industrial development. His drawings intimate certain narrative and autobiographical elements that preserve his identity and give meaning to an interior and exterior world in crisis.
In The Friar’s Doodle (2010),Tacita Dean (Canterbury, United Kingdom, 1965) portrays the doodles and graffiti that surround the colonnade of the Romanesque cloister of the Abbey de Silos and offers an image of what the monks may have drawn along the centuries. For the first time in this 13-minute, 16mm colour film, Dean uses a rostrum camera to produce animated images in which she closely follows the squiggly drawings - a contrast from the static images that characterise her work. The obstinate way in which Dean uncovers the original image underlines the necessary processes of discovery to decipher the scene as a whole, without letting the camera move back to show the composition in its entirety.
The Palacio de Cristal opened in 1887 with an exhibition on wildlife from the Philippines that formed part of a broader project dedicated to the then important Spanish colony. La saison des fêtes (The Season of Festivities) by Pierre Huyghe (Paris, 1962) was devised especially for the space, freely encompassing and framing its history and past uses. The original exhibition featured exuberant tropical plants with a colonialist ideology behind them; Huyghe's conception, however, distances itself from a strictly Eurocentric perspective.
This exhibition, entitled Retrospección (Hindsight) in reference to the collective vision in the career of Thomas Schütte (Oldenburg, Germany, 1954), spans thirty years and represents his permanent investigations through a critical dialogue with art of the past. Schütte's powerful aesthetics are based on advancing by looking back, subverting the previous modes of his own creation or borrowing from other cultures and other times.
Mario García Torres (Monclova, Mexico, 1975) is one of the most internationally renowned Latin American artists. This is his first individual exhibition in a Spanish institution, and, following a rigorous three-year research process, this Mexican artist living in Los Angeles unearths a new chapter in the intriguing relationship certain artists have with history.
Francisco López (Madrid, 1964) is one of the key exponents of experimental and electroacoustic music. His sound installations acknowledge the power of sound to transcend the perception and emotions of the people that participate in them. López has created Sin título #223 (Untitled #223) for the Museo Reina Sofía, a piece of sound art with specific sounds for a place with metal walls and ceilings and unusual dimensions - it is located in an unorthodox place in the Museo, in a metal corridor in the Edificio Nouvel. López has chosen the location for its acoustic conditions and installs a sound system that invites visitors to become submerged in a virtual sound world with extreme contrasts. He favours the exploration of sound as well as our own interior, hence the rejection of visual aspects as he leaves the installation in almost complete darkness, enabling him to penetrate a “virtual reality of sound” in a kind of ritual that is both collective and individual.
León Ferrari (Buenos Aires, 1920) and Mira Schendel (Zürich, Switzerland, 1919 - Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1988), are two of the twentieth century's most preeminent Latin American artists. El alfabeto enfurecido: León Ferrari y Mira Schendel (The Frenzied Alphabet: León Ferrari and Mira Schendel) is the first retrospective exhibition of their work in Spain. Without meeting one another, Ferrari and Schendel work in Argentina and Brazil respectively, both converging through their work as they advocate the presence of language as visual material and content. In contrast to conceptual artists, who focus on the ideal leading role of language, Ferrari and Schendel do not use this language in their works to produce art as an idea, but rather to express its particular materiality, employing it as a physical medium that can be moulded and sculpted.
The exhibition on Georges Vantongerloo (Antwerp, Belgium, 1886 - Paris, 1965) reveals the influence in his work of the re-conceptualisation of pictorial and sculptural space in abstract art at the beginning of the 20th century. The exhibition also homes in on the latter stages of his output, which undergoes a series of radical changes after World War Two, enabling him to reach an entirely original and profoundly intuitive artistic synthesis that subsequently transforms the disciplines of painting and sculpture.
The Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos welcomes the exhibition dedicated to Belgian artist Francis Alÿs (Antwerp, Belgium, 1959). The starting point of the exhibition is the work Fabiola (1885), whose whereabouts are unknown since the beginning of the 20th century, by the French painter and academic Jean-Jacques Henner. It looks at the idealised portrait based on the hagiography of the saint published one year earlier by a British cardenal and translated into ten languages, which aslo gave rise to the worship of the saint, thus establishing her “patron image”.
At the beginning of the summer of 1972, the “Pamplona Encounters” were held - the most extensive and significant international avant-garde art festival held in Spain. Imbued with the idea of diffusing art into life, these were ephemeral encounters, set up as an opportunity to subvert the order established at the end of the dictatorship in Spain.
This exhibition brings together the work of two key exponents in the stylistic and theoretical definition of Russian Constructivism: Liubov Popova (Ivanovskoïe, Russia, 1889 - Moscow, 1924) and Alekxander Rodchenko (San Petersbourg, Russia, 1891 - Moscow, 1956). It constitutes the most complete selection of works to date of these two artists, amassing around 350 pieces realised between 1917 and 1929 by both that includes: paintings, cinema and theatre posters, sketches of clothing designs, furniture, books, photographs, documentaries and work by their contemporaries.
The work of artist Francesco Lo Savio (Rome, 1935 - Marseille, France, 1963) is displayed individually for the first time in Spain through this exhibition, which compiles a wide range of works realised over a five year period. It features paintings from his early period, monochromes, filters, metal works, and his Articolizioni totali (total articulations) in addition to a series of works related to architecture, a discipline he studies before immersing himself in painting.
Crystal Times. Reflexión sin sol/Proyecciones sin objeto
Joëlle Tuerlinckx (Brussels, 1958) presents her first individual exhibition in Spain with the installation created for the Palacio de Cristal, in Madrid's Retiro park, whereby she recreates and modulates the exceptional lighting conditions in the Pavilion through a trio of “beams”. The exhibition is concluded in the Edificio Sabatini with a display of archive material and diverse works related to the Palacio de Cristal project and to Tuerlinckx' working process and reflections.
The work of Isidoro Valcárcel Medina (Murcia, 1937) - Winner of the National Prize for Plastic Arts in 2007 - represents an attitude of engagement that is a long way from commercial art, making it difficult to place in usual exhibition contexts and spaces. For the Fisuras programme in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, he has come up with a series of 'circumstances', actions that emerge from different places around the Museo Reina Sofía throughout the course of the autumn season. In these 'circumstances' Valcárcel Medina conveys his critical stance on the concept of the artistic and the institutionalisation of art, along with irreverence encapsulated in the way he sees conventional forms of meaning.
The work of David Maljkovic (Rijeka, Croatia, 1973) focuses on memory and collective amnesia in addition to the possible reconstruction of the future - issues closely linked to the recent history of former Yugoslavia. His installations combine video, drawing, objects and architecture, with a special interest in architectural symbols and their meaning today.
Representantes del tiempo (Time Proxies) is Matthew Buckingham's (Nevada, USA, 1963) first individual exhibition in Spain. The exhibit of the multi-talented artist, displaying photography, video, audio, drawing and sculpture in different installation formats, is made up of a selection of works that identify and call into question the diverse processes of memory and the contrast between recollection and reality.
Todo lo que no es ración es agio (Everything that is not a Portion is Speculation) (2009) is the title of a video by Patricia Esquivias (Caracas, 1979), produced as part of Fisuras, the programme featuring the Museo's own productions. The work is the final installment in the Folklore series, started in 2006, whereby the artist explores, uncanonically, diverse themes related to the history and idiosyncrasies of Spain by means of everyday situations and phenomena in popular culture. Esquivias' work looks at the theme of Spanish folklore as it reflects on the fact that from the Eighties onwards art and folk have disappeared from contemporary artistic expression. The video is projected onto an area in transition, between the Edificio Sabatini and Edificio Nouvel, and is based on a still of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, taken from the surrounding area, in which the contrast between Sabatini's architecture and the contemporary building by the French architect can be discerned. This contrast serves as a backdrop for Esquivias to reflect upon the relationship between Spain and modernity.
The exhibition Atlas Group (1989-2004), Un Proyecto de Walid Raad (Atlas Group 1989-2004. A Walid Raad Project) is an archive project developed by Walid Raad (Chbanieh, Lebanon, 1967) between 1989 and 2004. Its aim is to research and document Lebanon's recent history, particularly during the war from 1975 to 1990. For the first time in Spain, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía offers the possibility of exploring a significant part of the works that comprise the Atlas Group project.
The exhibition Los Esquizos de Madrid. Figuración madrileña de los 70 (The Schizos of Madrid. Madrid’s Figurative Movement in the 1970s) looks at Madrid's complex cultural environment during the last years of Franco's regime and the first period of democracy. The retrospective coordinates the activities and work of a group of painters known as “Los Esquizos de Madrid” (The Schizos of Madrid), whose exploits as a group span from 1970 to 1985, a period in which they decided to embrace figurative painting as they operated on the margins of the dominant aesthetic and political conventions at the end of the dictatorship.
This, the first individual exhibition devoted to the work of Paul Sietsema (Los Angeles, USA, 1968), brings together large-scale drawings along with the film Figure 3 (2008) as his considerations of the practices and the discursive and ideological environment of modern art in the West are displayed. During the five years it took to produce Figure 3, Sietsema documents the reconstruction of various artefacts from ancient cultures, reconstructing them using photographs and materials that differ from the originals. Far from wanting to supplant the originals with his works, Sietsema is more concerned with illustrating the passing of time. To film such objects he uses a 16mm format, carrying out experiments with light, colour and the materials of the objects in order to produce certain tactile effects; thus he is able to imprint a new kind of distance - the representation and rendering of the format, along with the typical elements of anthropology documentaries, scientific photography and experimental cinema.
The exhibition of the Archivo F.X. project by Pedro G. Romero (Aracena, 1964) shows this documentary collection, which began in 1999. This project consists of different types of files, most notably an extensive collection of images from iconoclastic, anti-sacramental political occurrences in Spain between 1845 and 1945. In his archive Romero draws parallels with the iconoclastic pulse present in all avant-garde modern art. In Archivo F.X., an open archive, relationships of readings from documentary sources of image are established -iconoclastic ones- and the dictionary that names it -the artistic index-. The instrument used by Romero for it, is the composition of this archive with over a thousand images, documentary films, reflections on seminars and publications. It also includes various social and political practices on anticlerical, political iconoclasm in Spain, such as: beheaded statues, soiled paintings, pierced architectures, expropriated sacred spaces, reuse of religious buildings, or the smelting of objects of worship for civil industry.
The exhibition of Swiss artists Peter Fischli (Zurich, Switzerland, 1952) and David Weiss (Zurich, Switzerland, 1946) is a selection of pieces made by the artists themselves. Peter Fischli/David Weiss Are animals people? focuses on the protagonists of their early works, Bear and Rat. These characters are present at different moments of their artistic career for over thirty years, they have served to question art as an alternative system of knowledge and to position themselves at a distance and with irony from the fine line between fiction and reality.
This exhibition on the work of Juan Muñoz (Madrid, 1953 - Ibiza, 2001) is the most comprehensive retrospective to date on the artist, which precedes Juan Muñoz. Monólogos y diálogosdedicated to him by the Museum in 1996.
Susan Philipsz (Glasgow, United Kingdom, 1965) creates atmosphere using sound, with which she proves her inherent ability to define the architecture. Her creations, conceived as musical developments created expressly for empty spaces, make up a different piece for each spectator, upon establishing different relationships between it and the architectural space that surrounds it. Philipsz defines her creations from memory, references and emotions that sound cannot produce and with them she invites reflection, introspection and silence.
Julio González (Barcelona, 1876 - Arcueil, France, 1942) is considered the father of iron sculpture and one of the key artists in the development of twentieth-century art. This retrospective exhibition exposes his process of finding a new sculptural syntax through a wide variety of registers and is an addition to those Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía dedicated to him in 1986 focused on Las Colecciones del IVAM and in 1995 focused on his drawings.
The work of the English artist of Indian descent Alia Syed (Swansea, United Kingdom) is on display for the first time in Spain at this exhibition. Her work Eating Grass (2003), is a succession of sequences in public and private spaces of three cities (London, Karachi and Lahore), assembled as a collage. The parts that standout in the 22 minutes that the film lasts are the super-saturated colours, the total freedom of movement and sibilant voices reciting lines written in English and Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. It is about allusions to the five daily prayers prescribed by Islam. Syed reflects in this work the influence of collagists and other experimental filmmakers of the 1960s.
With a selection of over 300 works, mostly from private collections, this exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective dedicated to Paul Thek (New York, United States, 1933-1988). Among the selected pieces are paintings and photography, as well as objects of collective works that the artist produced for various European institutions. Thek considered the key to the relationship between man and the world was in continuous wandering, and spent much of his career in voluntary exile in Europe. The artist lived in different cities, fuelling a distinctly cosmopolitan art.
This exhibition reviews Eulalia Valldosera’s (Vilafranca del Penedes, 1963) career, since its inceptions in the late eighties. Her work is characterised by installations and actions that project light where her intention is not to create an object to be observed, but to interact with the spectator.
The Palacio de Cristal at the Parque del Retiro hosts the sculpture Island Universe (2008) consisting of five chromed aluminium and blown glass elements. For its creation the artist Josiah McElheny (Boston, USA, 1966) has based himself on current theories about the origin of the universe, what cosmologists call the multiverse, multiple possible universes in constant expansion, replacing previous ideas about the Big-Bang.
The work of photographer Zoe Leonard (New York, USA, 1961) is exhibited for the first time at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Leonard's work is based on observation and memory, through the portrait of maps and anatomical models, shop windows, museums and shops from his neighbourhood. The artist rejects photography as a neutral document, in favour of what she calls a "subjective truth". Leonard distances herself from the protocols and conventions of photography, even using printing processes that are virtually obsolete. She works with the images for a long time, she copies them into different sizes and on different types of paper, but never retouches them, accepting the imperfections that may occur in their developing, such as dust or scratches.