The Stuff That Surrounds Us – Ángela Cuadra y Eva Fàbregas
Ángela Cuadra y Eva Fàbregas - The Stuff That Surrounds Us
The contemporary is, as such, outdated. They are untimely, the silent searchers who break the seemingly organised chronology restlessly imposed by the institution. To re-organise the fragments at hand, interrogating them and expanding the cracks in time, allows us to question the obsolete interpretation of our environment. ‘The Stuff That Surrounds Us’ by Ángela Cuadra and Eva Fàbregas is an exhibition that floats as a boat that is thrown into the unknown in order to get rid of the stagnant and dig into a paradox that is organised around scattered artworks, as if they were the remains of a controlled deflagration.
‘Don’t forget that you are the nucleus of a rupture. God separated himself from himself in order to let us speak, in order to atonish and interrogate us. He did so not by speaking but by keeping still, by letting silence interrupt his voice and his signs, by letting the Tables be broken’, this is how Jacques Derrida, in ‘Writing and Difference’, compares the fragmentation of the text to the rupture of the original order, from whose pieces ‘the poem grows and the right to speech takes root. Once more begins the adventure of the text as weed, as outlaw’.
The small boards by Ángela Cuadra show stripes of colour, black and yellow, juxtaposed with an accumulation of tiny and errant drops of bright colours. Controlled, almost retained gestures decorate the surface of these paintings like a wall that is ‘dotted with its erratic spots, [which] produces an effect like a deflagration’. Erratic spots that Didi-Huberman, in his praise of anachronism, singled out in the frescoes that Fra Angelico painted in the 15th Century in the Convent of San marco in Florence, and by approaching them to Pollock’s ‘dripping’, they are – quite unexpectedly – enlightened by other possible narratives and insights. The fruitful anachronism appears precisely in the mismatch.
Once the apparent confusion at first sight has passed and when you look at the eventful heterogeneity that surrounds us, the experience of the estrangement may surface; as if we were looking through a kaleidoscope of impure times, set to reveal in its mismatch the hidden potential of the signs, their stories. ‘Those who are truly contemporary, who truly belong to their time, are those who neither perfectly coincide with it nor adjust themselves to its demands. They are thus in this sense irrelevant. But precisely because of this condition, precisely through this disconnection and this anachronism, they are more capable than others of perceiving and grasping their own time’, Giorgio Agamben writes regarding the definition of contemporary.
In ‘A Shell, Many Shells’, Eva Fàbregas shows a series of pictures of the hole of a shell which, regularly scanned, alternates stasis with small movements of the scanner. To those pictures, the artist adds floating layers of coloured vinyl, which, as a streak of lightning falling upon the represented object, increase the movement of light. The hole of the shell has retained every cycle of its slow organic development within, and now it’s opening up in front of the spectator under the semblance of an accumulation of strata of lights, air, distances and proximities.
Something happened, and the subsequent movements of settlements now involves the gallery space. The dialectic pictures produce a hint from heterogeneous times and as they are revived among the folds they do not allow themselves to be reduced to domestic coherency. The works by Ángela Cuadra and Eva Fàbregas function as miniature worlds, their exhibition as a village of singularities where common life is organised according to rituals that praise the evolving trance. This exhibition project moves forward as a snail, as liturgical as lysergic that it makes our point of view shift in order to reconsider what surrounds us. A silent and unstoppable movement that only stresses its limits in order to exceed them.
The volatile green of the plants Karl Blossfeldt so meticulously photographed was forever petrified in the noticeable contrast of black and white in his pictures. The organic movement was crystallised in pursuit of silver abstraction with a certain taste for the grotesque, the ornament ‘of animals, bugs, chimeras and foliages’.
In Ángela Cuadra’s new canvasses, a green that little has to do with nature and that points towards the world of design is placed with a certain apparent fervour in the centre of the composition; nevertheless, it is only waiting to abdicate in favour of one of the decorative elements that already surrounds it and that, silently belligerent, approach to dethrone it. The artist organises her paintings from the extremes; with no previously existing structure design, she calmly concentrates on one part of the painting before stepping away and dedicating herself to another fragment. There are details that could very well belong to bits of walls or floors, fragments of a grotesque in ruins and half hidden underneath the vegetation. Remains which together with the artificial green, make up a sort of swing for the spectator, an assemblage of singularities moving back and forth: we’re in the middle of a deflagration!
The weeds, errant as well, which Eva Fàbregas arranges in the gallery space are scattered under the semblance ‘of an entropic ecology’ that transforms the land through which they move. Filling the gaps between the floorboards, the artist places tiny mixed media assemblies that have a tactile component which seem to contaminate the surroundings, an unhurried but constant movement: this is Overgrowth, an excessive growth which aspires to cover with its moist layer what is stagnant, so that the poetic can arise from the silence. In his review on Karl Blossfeldt’s ‘Art Forms in Nature’, Walter Benjamin writes: ‘If we can agree on this, then the table is set with one hundred twenty plates in this book, inviting countless observations from countless observers. Yes, we really wish this rich book (poor only in words) that many friends. The silence of the scholar who presents these images must really be honoured; perhaps his knowledge is of the kind that makes the one who possesses it mute. And here, doing is more important than knowing. (…) He has done his part in that great examination of the perceptive inventory, which will have an unforeseeable effect on our conception of the world ‘
Both artists in ‘The Stuff That Surrounds Us’ organise their works from the corners, they venture into formal and conceptual scaffoldings that refer to the grotesque, like wild herbs that end up dominating the space through ornament. And through strategies of temporary suspensions, they surround and captivate those who visit the show. From the sides and inwards, from the hole to the surface; the paintings, sculptures and photographs in this project move forward as the snail that carries his heterogeneous fragments on its back. The shell contains the full power of a clash of times that are all out-dated, that are always ‘just before’ or ‘shortly after’, and therefore unpredictable. Just as the words that are whispered from the most intimate place exude subjectivity that silently delivers a new experience to the spectator.