Salvador Dalí famously once quipped, “I don’t do drugs; I am drugs.” Dalí’s words come to mind when casting an eye over the surreal black-and-white images of Spanish photographer Chema Madoz, whose exquisite and precise compositions are populated with hybrid objects created by the artist himself. In his work, an air vent in street pavement becomes a drying rack for plates; a cloud appears to inhabit a birdcage strung from the sky; and the dark contents of a martini glass stand in for the pubic hair of an anonymous female figure in a white dress.
“Objects have the same character that words do when you put one next to the other: they contaminate one another and meanings change,” Madoz says. “I profit from those circumstances.” A self-taught artist, Madoz collects objects and playfully alters them in order to create strange juxtapositions that subtly shift perspectives or pull the wool over viewers’ eyes. In the artist’s current exhibition at Robert Klein Gallery, “Chema Madoz: Sin Titulo,” a glass perfume bottle merges with a medical needle, evoking the contours of New York’s World Trade Center, and a stiletto heel is an upside-down figurine of the Eiffel Tower. Working with strong tonal contrasts of black and white, Madoz casts his objects—which are never quite what they seem—in light that is at once elegant, poetic, and timeless. Meticulous and rich, his photographs reward long, sustained looking.