The term that lends its name to this exhibition is used to bring the work of sixteen British and Spanish artists together in one unique space, selected for this third instalment of Confrontaciones (Comparisons). The aim is the positive and open comparison in art practices, conducted in different geographical locations by authors from the same generation. On one side, the specifics of the recent artistic past in each country (in Spain's case, the eighties is defined for the most part by pictorial practice) are reflected in this collection of work whereby artists share different aspects, attitudes and processes that are used to depict a critical dimension in their pieces. As vindicated by the selected works on display, and asserted by the art critic Félix Guisasola, at the beginning of this decade: “A trend towards objectualisation (sculpture, installation, objects) substantiates a development in the approach of art genres and bears witness to a change in the prominence of the artist (from expressionist gestures and attitudes to the autobiography or total concealment of the artist behind the opacity of the works).”
The pieces by Spanish artists in this international comparison illustrate the critical questioning of art as a sign with a signifier. In this vein, Antoni Abad has developed a new sculpture with a functional concept built by accumulation and repetition, Darío Urzay converges subjective expression and process in his painting, while Txomin Badiola and Emilio Martínez show the instrumental nature of signs, Lluís Hortalá favours the interstices and lost incorporeal spaces and Javier Baldeón keeps the “lost slides of the image” in his photography, as the curator, María Teresa Blanch, puts it. In his paintings, Simeón Sáiz tries to nullify the mechanisms of fiction that dominate visual imagery in order to remove validity from the meanings. Finally, and stressing the crisis of representation, according to Blanch: “Marcelo Expósito applies his ideological discourse to every kind of narrative.”
In terms of the British artists, the common thread of their work is the recognition of a critical stance towards art practice and materials, a variation of the crisis of representational systems. Mark Wallinger rebukes the distortion of conventional signs, Ian Davenport emphasises the process of pictorial execution, of technique. The inclusion of non-art materials, as inAnya Galliccio's and Michael Landy's work, is also a response to this critical standpoint towards process. Gary Hume creates his own pigments while Greeville Davey isolates the physical details of his pieces in favour of the finished object. Rachel Whiteread's approach to sculpture as a negative subject leads the subversion of the traditional concept of a work of art, as does the illusion of space offered by Julian Opie's pieces.