In large part the work by Asier Mendizabal (Ordizia, 1973) history ceases to be a practice connected to the past and instead reveals the cracks through which history becomes an activity intimately linked to the present. His enigmatic work, not easily deciphered, turns anecdotes into an event that makes the past current; a past in which the history of art and the ideology of shape have a fundamental weight that refers back to their link with social groups and their use as a tool for identification, glorification or repudiation. The media he uses, even considering the weight of Basque sculpture over the 20th century, reveal a range of resources that suggest readings far from reflection on space or the artistic medium and that are thus presented in a way that rejects all metaphysics.
This exhibition consists of recent works and also two pieces produced especially for this occasion. Among the former, worth noting is Otxarkoaga (M-La) (2007), an allusion to the street display in 1993, at the initiative of residents of the Bilbao neighbourhood Otxarkoaga, of some Marx and Lenin sculptures, a display that revealed unsuspected readings of the meaning of monument. Memorial (2009) also makes reference to a Lenin monument, but this time it is the London statue unveiled in 1941, with replication of its surroundings. The iconoclastic tendency of the 20th century is visible in Sin Título (sin título, Kalero) (2009) and inTargu Jiu (2010). Figures and Prefigurations (Divers) and The Staff that Matters, both of which are from 2009, bring together, using collage techniques, photographs by artists of different origins, engaging in play between shape and meaning, aesthetics and ideology. Auñamendi (2005) brings together photos from the Encyclopaedia of the Basque People printed by the publishing company Auñamendi in 1969, to reveal the visual language of the production of collectivities.
Hard Edge (2010) and Soft Focus (2010), are the two pieces created specifically for this show. The first is a reflection on the sculptural trend mentioned in the title, nuanced by the recent history of Basque sculpture. The second consists of the manipulation of photos by Willy Koch for the Basque Encyclopaedia, underlining the idealization of images that produce collective identification.It creates an intense contrast between photography, document and work, and is accompanied by two photographs: one by Willy Koch and another by José Ortiz Echagüe, both of which belong to the Museum's Collection.
In this exhibition, Asier Mendizabal reveals that modernity, as a project based on progress, evolution and linear development, has come to constitute the past through which we understand the present. The peculiar adoption of this project in the Spanish context is also reflected in these works, which are intended not only to dialogue with one other, but also with Museo Reina Sofía.