October 8, 2009 - Sala Rekalde - Abigail Lazkoz
October 8, 2009

Abigail Lazkoz

Abigail Lazkoz, To the river 3, 2008. Ink on paper. Photo: Begoña Zubero.

Abigail Lazkoz
Extraordinary Machines

October 8th 2009 – January 31st 2010

Curated by Leire Vergara

Alameda de Recalde, 30
Bilbao 48009 (Spain)


sala rekalde presents Extraordinary Machines, a one-person show by the artist Abigail Lazkoz (Bilbao 1972), who lives and works in New York. This is an installation expressly realised for the main gallery consisting of a set of monumental drawings in black and white on free standing panels and on the walls, a series of three dimensional structures that unfold within the exhibition space creating different areas, and an animated video that refers to the origin of animated cinema to emphasise the expression of drawing through movement.

Extraordinary Machines is configured as a “landscape of battle” developed in different phases. All the elements articulate a possible narrative path dealing with war and destruction, not only as references recurrent in their literalness, but also as metaphors that make evident another type of quotidian conflict. Based on an apparently simple pictorial composition, the drawings are established as basic elements that mark the formal and conceptual rhythm of the show. They invite the spectator to submerge him/herself in the symbolic wealth of their details, in the pictorial structure of the line and the starkness of the pictorial gesture, with the aim of delving, from the particularity of the references employed, into universal questions like death and the devastation. In this respect, the artist’s endeavour to occupy the whole exhibition space setting out from the very materiality of drawing can be perceived. The exhibition thus functions as a kind of reordering of the basic elements that the artist has used, first in the drawings and then in the exhibition space.

In short, this is a constructive way of spreading her drawing throughout the whole of the exhibition area. The result is a reconciliation between figuration and abstraction, on whose basis the narrative structure of the drawings interweaves with the constructive forms of which they are composed. In this way, a series of almost totemic basic forms coexist with the wealth and idiosyncrasy of the narrative references of the drawn works.

The exhibition Extraordinary Machines is indebted to a previous series titled War Stories I Have Heard (2004). The series, made up of six drawings on paper, some executed subsequently on the wall and with much greater dimensions, dealt with the construction of collective memory through lived experiences. Each drawing developed a specific idea in relation to oral transmission, the construction of memory and how individual identity is built on the stories one receives. This series also used war as a narrative background and reflected on the historical conditioning factors that end up giving a concrete character to each generation.

The title of the exhibition is the refrain of a song by the American composer Fiona Apple that runs as follows: Be kind to me, or treat me mean, I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine… With this phrase, the artist Abigail Lazkoz wishes to emphasise a certain irreducible strength and the possibility of growth on the basis of both the good and the bad. It is a phrase that offers hope in face of the reality of permanent conflict that characterises our contemporary society.

For Abigail Lazkoz the aesthetic and conceptual strength of drawing and painting resides in conceiving both languages as laboratories of the imagination. That is, she takes a position facing pictorial language that claims a certain demiurgic capacity when producing possible new forms of understanding the world that go beyond its faithful representation. This becomes evident in her drawing in the stark gesture of the black line on a white background. This simple gesture, stripped of all ornament, gives the artist absolute freedom when it comes to proposing new possibilities of expression in the face of reality.

At the same time this is a process of apprenticeship that sets out from the formal possibilities of the recourse of the black mark on white. A reference that relates drawing to the origins of writing.

Lazkoz generally defines her pictorial language as being stripped of all gestural expression; her option is based on the tense line and zero gesture, which in the final term problematises painting through the reduced economy of the media employed. This reduction of the resources needed in producing the work provides it with a self-sufficiency and mobility that, in short, free her artistic practice.

Abigail Lazkoz’s drawing goes beyond the construction of possible scenarios; her most recent works show a painstaking interest in the construction of a specific vocabulary based on the sobriety of the drawing materials. A way of emphasising pictorial language and of creating references and elements that interrelate to construct a complex syntax.

On the occasion of the exhibition, sala rekalde is publishing a catalogue that reproduces this new production by Abigail Lazkoz. The volume will document the creative development of this new installation and will include texts by the historian Iria Candela and a conversation with the show’s curator Leire Vergara. The book is designed by the Catalan designers Albert Folch Studio and includes photographs of the work taken by Begoña Zubero.

Concurrently The Abstract Cabinet of sala rekalde will host the exhibition Euforias y Demonias (Euphories and Demons) by Javier Soto (St. Gallen 1975) The work of Javier Soto carries out an exploration of pictorial language employing formats as diverse as drawing, collage, paint on canvas and even the mural. His pieces are configured on the basis of work processes that draw on contexts and references close to the artist’s life.

Soto’s painting must be understood in its natural setting, that is, placed in relation to the structure of the different series the artist composes, and to the force these groupings generate, translated into an explosion of semantic relations and narrative lines that finally interweave with each other.

sala rekalde will publish a conversation between Javier Soto and Antonio Ballester Moreno (Madrid, 1977) in which both artists deal with different aspects of their experience of painting and more specifically, with the foundations of their respective artistic practices.

Sala Rekalde
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