terreno áspero | rugged terrain
five contemporary artists from Spain
October 21 - December 30, 2016
opening reception on Friday, Oct. 21 (6-8pm)
Maus Contemporary - beta pictoris gallery
Publication available this Fall
contributing writers: Angel Calvo Ulloa, Brett Levine
It can be hard to shake off a mantle, and in some senses Spanish artists - in particular Spanish painters - have been shaking for a long, long time. Modern artists have of course suffered under the yoke, or perhaps we should say both the gift and the curse, of Pablo Picasso. His legacy, and his cloud, hung so low and so heavily over the entirety of Spanish art that the late curator Frank O’Hara of the Museum of Modern Art in New York was compelled to curate the exemplary exhibition New Spanish Painting and Sculpture. That groundbreaking show served to catapult Spanish art into the late-twentieth century, highlighting how vibrant it was, and how shortsighted it would be to simply let our appreciation of culture stop because we were so enthralled with a mystique that we could not truly look at what followed.
And yet this context in fact stretches back further, and further, so that Spanish painters also both suffer and celebrate the legacies of artists including Francisco Goya, or Diego Velazquez. But where might that possibly leave these artists today? Perhaps it situates them somewhere in the post-postmodern, if there might be such a place. This place would be twofold. For English speakers, it would be populated after the fact by the fragmented histories and visions of authors such as Camilo Jose Cela with his exceptional novel The Family of Pascual Duarte, and by films by visionaries including the incomparable Luis Buñuel. And yet, in the background, still painting away, is the legacy of tío Pablo. Since many viewers will be unfamiliar with much other than Picasso’s legacy, what will any of this mean for the five contemporary Spanish artists included in terreno áspero/rugged terrain?
Why might one situate a history of Spanish painting and sculpture within its wider historical and cultural contexts? And what could that possibly mean for art of the present day? Perhaps it stems in part from the idea that while history may be linear, it is fragmentary. And identity, however it is structured, is as well. So when one begins to construct the idea of Spanish contemporary art, is the reference to rugged terrain a reference to geography—to a country marked as much by the soaring heights of the Pyrenees as by the scars of its complex histories? Or is it a reference to the simple topographies of paint itself, to the radical materiality of the medium embodied by exemplary Spanish artists like Manolo Millares or Antoni Tàpies?
Whatever its deeper meanings, it refers to a history that is extended by these five artists.
terreno áspero | rugged terrain opens at beta pictoris gallery on October 21 and runs through December 30, 2016. The opening reception will be hosted at beta pictoris from 6:00-8:00 pm on Friday, October 21. High res images of the exhibition are available through beta pictoris gallery.