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.