Rosita halftone, 2021. Pencil and marker on graphed paper, 28 x 40 cm
Rosita halftone, 2021. Pencil and marker on graphed paper, 28 x 40 cm

Roberto Mollá

From January 15 to May 6, 2022

The alien hunter lives an artist’s life. His headquarters, set up in the Harumi flats in Tokyo Bay, resembles a studio. There he has gathered all available tables and on them he is arranging, in variable compositions, the photographs, notes, maps and drawings he makes during his walks around the distant Space City, an exact and floating replica of the Japanese capital. Shelves are filled with folders containing the information collected during his wanderings through the streets. They are not labelled or dated, although it is not necessary because they all contain data from September 1, 1994; a day, or rather seconds, when a story with an incomprehensible timeline takes place. A non-time (where centuries are reduced to ashes) which the hunter pretends to map in a diagram. On those shelves there are also some science fiction and architecture books, galactic comics, a hundred records and an album of anonymous negatives found in the Togo’s sanctuary flea market. Inside a folder he keeps what he calls the Desaix File, half a dozen reports that identify probable extraterrestrials and cite them as first target, second target and so on. The hunter searches daily for these six strange life forms in a city where he seems to be the sole survivor, another strange life form in turn. On the headquarters monitor, and on all screens he finds around the city, Rosita, a TV presenter, explains some details of the immense space metropolis. In Heaven everything is fine, he reads in the subtitles. He might have heard the sentence, looped, hundreds, thousands of times. Shortly afterwards (or much later, this is not possible to know) the alien hunter writes: Now I love, I love an image. Confused, he closes his eyes and when he looks back at the screen Rosita has disappeared.

This is in short the story that, in a version of the book Geografía del tiempo (A.G. Porta, 2008), is represented in the Gabinete de dibujos through twenty works on graph paper. Identifying himself with the gaze and daily routines of the novel protagonist (the alien hunter), and adding layers of his own references (McKnight Kauffer’s illustrations for The world in 2030, Tuxedomoon music, Zona 84 comic collection), Roberto Mollá shows a drawings series where the hunter in the novel has become a drawer, Hong Kong is Tokyo and aliens are all the mutant, automatic, repetitive or inscrutable shapes that appear on his headquarters table. Exhibition themes, as in Porta’s metaphysical novel, are time and its flexibility, memories and dreams volatility, the futile attempt to trap them in images and the work in the studio. The alien hunter draws spaceships, kinetic lines and female television presenters, but that is the least of it here. As in previous series in which he portrayed his drawing table or strange drawing robots, the main theme of the exhibition, although buried, is the practice of drawing itself. He draws that he is drawing. Drawing as a record of spent time completing, for example, the female android portrait, perhaps an alien, with a halftones grid (small circles, drawn in this case in pencil, which the eye blends to form an image); or of the spent time drawing over and over again the same folder, one a day, in the Date paintings of On Kawara manner. The strange life form again. The irrepressible but antiquated instinct that Pontano spoke of in Antonioni’s La notte.

Porta’s novel is an ideal setting for dealing with these themes, but other layers of references, ramifications, stories within stories and recurring themes in Mollá’s work were added to this narrative during the process, mostly of them related to his own personal experience and memory, a swooping journey towards themes and fetishes, some of them adolescent, that initiated him in his artistic practice. The title chosen for the exhibition, a pop, underground and retrofuturist one, alludes to the uninhibited way in which the artist hunts and mixes disparate pieces from comics, literature, cinema, a visited city, post-punk music or vorticism. The drawer puts on the alien hunter’s trench coat and, as in Wong Kar-Wai’s film, begins to imagine himself as a Japanese man on a train towards 2046 in search of a delayed-action female android, with the intention of recovering lost memories, memories that, as the Talking Heads say, can’t wait.

Gallery pictures: Raúl Belinchón

CV Roberto Mollá