Malva y asfódelo
January 23 to August 7, 2020
Ernesto Casero, Manuel Antonio Domínguez, Roberto Mollá, Felipe Ortega-Regalado, Santiago Talavera, Nieves Torralba and Manuel Boix
“Fools! They know not how much more the half is than the whole,
nor what great advantage there is in mallow and asphodel”.
Hesiod (VIII-VII B.C.): Works and days
Indeed, how foolish is often humankind when it despises what it is simple, wild and authentic which lives and multiplies without its care. There are many who pay fortunes for exotic meals while missing delicacies that grow at their fingertips on riverbanks and uncultivated lands.
Although Hesiod might be a little bit offensive, what he was doing two thousand seven hundred years ago was to condemn those prejudices so firmly established against humble foods such as mallow and asphodel, the bread of poor people.
Drawing has also suffered a certain underestimation as it is considered a minor art at the service of the major arts, a simple means of sketching, structuring, thinking and conceiving, usually without a place of its own in the history of art. It could be said that drawing is the artistic equivalent of the human diet’s mallow and asphodel, and that it increasingly finds those who value it.
In fact, the six artists collaborating with the Gabinete de dibujos have gradually adopted drawing as a usual way of expression, because it is more in tune with their ideas; in this era of the image multiplication and the great visual pollution, they are moving along the path of technical simplicity, sincerity, absence of layers and concealment, material purification and less demand for infrastructure.
For the exhibition Malva y asfódelo, which opens the new Gabinete de dibujos, Felipe Ortega-Regalado and Nieves Torralba bring two installations that recreate the plant world. Nieves shows the formal purification of the heliconias, those plants that grow in jungles and tropical rainforests and whose name comes from the Helicon, sacred mountain of the muses for the ancient Greeks. Besides her, Felipe invents multiple combinations and formal possibilities around the suggestion of the vegetal world, creating a kind of intricate and complex undergrowth.
Meanwhile, Roberto Mollá and Manuel Antonio Domínguez bring in their assemblages based on the most basic polygon, the triangle. Roberto constructs his Diamantes tristes, compositions with vorticist and mineral reminiscences on his usual graph paper, while Manuel uses the triangular border to enclose his meticulous watercolour scenes about single women, claiming their right to choose a lifestyle and civil status.
And he is not the only one who wants to pose a reflection through his work: the delicate drawings by Santiago Talavera, which recreate post-abolition scenes and animalist groups protests, deal with what would really be Goya’s position when he made his Tauromaquia engravings; likewise, Ernesto Casero‘s intervention on the wall invites criticism about the way science has historically related to the natural world, often offering self-interested visions and biased interpretations of its essence.
Together with them, and as a guest artist, Manuel Boix brings a disturbing work to the window of the Gabinete de dibujos, one of the first in his Acròstic series, in which Josep Palàcios saw one constant: the search for simplicity and dispossession.