Nacho Criado (Mengíbar, Jaén, 1943 – Madrid, 2010) is considered one of the central figures in Spanish experimental art over the last 40 years, although he himself questioned this title when he received the National Prize for the Plastic Arts in 2009. Formally, his work analyses the material behavior and physical evolution of the art object, its processual and spatial aspects. Starting out, in the 1960s, with the formal principles of minimalism, as seen in pieces such as Homenaje a Rothko, (1970-1994), his work would later evolve towards the use of poor materials, discarded and easily obtained, of a pronouncedly povera nature. In parallel he would develop a conceptual interest that looked into the relationship between the idea and its formal materialization, the passage of time, the future, identity and the hybrid condition of artistic practice. All of this links him to the figure of Marcel Duchamp, who inspired Prêt-à-porter (MaDe in...), (1976).
The exhibition at Palacio de Velázquez offers a retrospective selection of Nacho Criado's work, revealing how the varied media and practices that he used – installation, sculpture, photography, video, architecture, performance, land art and body art – act as tools of inquiry into the relationship between ideas and referents from the past, inscribed in the mention of artists such as Bruno Taut, Matthias Grünewald, Samuel Beckett...and their material realization. With this re-updating, such references act as collaborating agents, catalyzing a new creative process. The piece No es la voz que clama en el desierto, (1990), the centre of this part of the show, underlines the tension between discourse and silence, between destruction and construction, a destination for human handiwork.
The Palacio de Cristal, the second site of this retrospective, contains a reconstruction of the exhibition Piezas de agua y cristal, which was held in the same place in 1991. In it, fungus cultivated on glassy walls represent the future "in a state of ruin" and the participation of collaborating agents, that respond to the architectural utopia and the aseptic gallery message through the trace of the event. An anti-architecture, an idea-stimulus, arising as a reflection on the mutability and the use of time as yet another material to be used in creation.