Measure: A Stone’s Throw

by kevin_mccourt on May 10, 2022

Introductory Text for upcoming solo exhibition – Sala José Saramago, Leganés, Madrid 22 Sept – 27 Oct 2022

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Colourful Lives, 2022, gathered sticks and acrylic paint, variable dimensions

The artist has gone for a series of walks near his home in Madrid.  Anyone can go to these places and lots of people have already done so. Some will be easily identifiable, especially for people from Madrid. Others, however, hidden away, will, most likely, not have been noticed.

His process of collecting, editing, adding, editing, re-assembling, and re-presenting is informed by reading, recent experience of interdisciplinary collaborations and his interest in others’ art practice. The process is further moulded by chance conversations, happy discoveries and haphazard exploration.   Conceptual and picture-making approaches thus fold into each other naturally in the making of pictures which are placed alongside objects, constructions and, occasionally, videos. The end result is a new physical and sensory reality, a new actuality. A new walk.

The tonalities and surfaces of the photographs presented in this exhibition have a drawing-like quality, and their angle of view is similar to that of the human eye. In this way, the large format camera used becomes a hand or technique where looking, gesture and precision meet. Furthermore, the simple unframed presentation of the images offers a sense of personal closeness. It seems possible to pass into them with a single step, to touch what one sees. They speak of direct experience and, at the same time, a slow creative process, a discreet insistence. They invite the visitor’s gaze.

These photographs, organised in diptychs or groupings are sometimes hung at different heights.  In Clear view from a marked distance, two images, one black and white and the other vividly colourful are placed next to each other.  At first, they appear identical in content, but slowly we begin to notice subtle differences indicating that time has passed.  Perhaps just a few seconds.

Precise GPS co-ordinates are provided for each location photographed. The title of each work refers to physical or temporal distance and to certainty or uncertainty with regard to those concepts and their values. The images speak of presence sustained through time, or of lost or changed function, of redefinition or re-purposing, of traces of the past and value today, of resonances in time. Everywhere has stories. We live in the present.

Objects and constructions explore how  an impulse to objectively measure may confuse us in our immediate subjective perception of how time is passing, or has passed when we look back over our lived experience. Such experience, the artist points out, is shaped by cultural influences, external events and not just individual but also collective phenomena. Concertina alludes to a concertina effect which often occurs when we find ourselves looking back on our past. Time seems to contract and expand in our memory, or pass at different rhythms, thus impinging on our present in a non-linear fashion. We meet time on our way to subjectivity.

Colourful hand-painted, waxed and cyanotype-printed sticks also seem to suggest temporal displacement and slippage. These raw materials were gathered at the places re-presented in the photographs, as the artist walked, to be later re-purposed and placed in two irregularly-shaped mounds, Deadwood and Colourful Lives, or placed against the walls as if they were twisted staffs, in Lifelines. Some sticks, painted in various yellow tones, are thin and wispy, others are more solid and vividly painted with multi-coloured stripes. They contrast with the monochrome images and sometimes converse with their pictorial elements. They also guide the visitor around the space and among the other works, such as the silent metronomes and the accompanying video of interacting rhythms suspended in one corner. On occasions, they converse with pictorial elements in the photographs. They assert their new value.

Mountains of the Mind and Fabulator both allude to the crucial roles creativity and optimism played during the pandemic and confinement we have all just passed through. They are concrete manifestations of re-imagined distance and time.

In recent years, this artist has worked on online interdisciplinary projects which explored the potential of collective creative practice online. The wall-drawing, Between Hand and Eye and Against the Ropes, can be seen as a kind of bridge between this work and his current projects. Here, he sets himself a task involving precise measurement, but sets about it using rudimentary tools: his eye, his hand and a couple of chalk lines. It is impossible to reproduce ‘perfection’ in this way, but that doesn’t matter.

These works, in the end, are about our sense of self. These are not problems of logic, so they should not be forced to take the shape of one.

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