Exhibition continues

Ignasi Aballí - Exhibition continues

A number of exhibitions with which Gallery Kula, under the production direction and program policy of DujeMrduljaš, apart from renownednational and regional artistshas also presented to the Split audience outstanding European artists, like Christian Ludwig Attersee, Herbert Brandl, Gunter Damisch, Dan Perjovski, Antonio Segui and Gérard Titusa-Carmel, have placed this exhibition space, with its program abreast of, and with its dynamics and vision, above the pubic cultural institutions, centres and NGOs which have come to be relied on to define the horizon and development of the visual culture of respective communities.This impression was reinforced with the synergic potential successfully realized by Mrduljašwhen he connected his program with the major exhibition spaces of the Split city centre - Palazzo Milesi of the Institute of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts– resulting in tripartite cooperation which has already facilitated representative exhibitions of celebrated artists like MimmoPaladino or JuliãoSarmento. The third in this ambitious series of tripartite exhibitions is IgnasioAballí’s Exhibition continues, which in its very name, owing to the artist’s conceptual background, hints atnot only the peripatetic nature of his Split exhibition and its relocation to the Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art, like the previous Sarmento exhibition, but likewise indicates the nature of artistic practice, both in the inherent correlation between its development and presentation andin the context of global visual culture.As for production conditions reliant on the public funding of visual culture in Croatia, apart fromperforming miracles with every exhibition, on this occasion, Mrduljaš has also found in Aballí an artist willing and able to realize an exhibition truly monumental in scope and meaning,despite its low budget, by conceiving site-specific installations.
Judging from the works presented in Split, IgnasiAballíhas content and form-wise respectably developed the ideas of the founders of conceptual arts, who had posed the questions of the meaning and value of the art object and, naturally, of the structure of the accompanying cultural system and especially of its institutional segment, as the premises of their artistic practice. Although we are, in general, inclined to believe that the tenets of conceptual art have long been spent, taking into account the fact that artists who base their creativity on the traditional artistic techniques have successfully integrated the methodology of conceptual art into their work ,in his highly-aestheticized and well-conceived artworks, Aballí effortlessly shows us wrong.He proved that the deconstruction of traditionally produced visual art still makes sense and that, apart from other things, an art object still has the power to undermine the established order.
Aballí and Mrduljaš have conceived the Split exhibition on the principle of the possible, using the functional combination of previously produced artworks and the creation of site-specific installations. With respect to artwork production, Aballí comes out as an exceptionally precise, monochrome and minimalism inclined multidisciplinary artist. The series of his paintings-objects, objects and photographs, on the one hand upholds the proverbial concept of an art object, while on the other hand continuously questioningit either in the technical, or in the semantic layer of the artwork.
For example, paper drawings exhibited under a piece of glass are made using the atypical technique of applying dust by blowing. Aballí will on one occasion make a series of monochromes from ground and compressed Euro banknotes of different denominations, or apply gold, silver, aluminium and brass leaves on another. These procedures make us re-examine what the value of artworks on the market depends on – the materials used, its aesthetics, semiotics, or a combination of the above.
Aballí expresses his attitude towards classical genres, like landscape paintings, with a series in the medium of photography, at first perceived as a succession of monochromes, even experiments with chemically induced components of the photographic technology or digital printing. In fact, it is an actual landscape photographed in the Spanish Galicia in different seasons, almost indiscernible, except for the different nuances of thick fog characteristic of the Atlantic shore. Are the landscape or veduta only what we see or do they integrate data generated by our other senses and our cognitive apparatus, is the theme Aballídealt with in the monumental site-specific installation in the atrium of the Museum of Fine Art, entitled A Possible Landscape (Split variation). He placed words on the walls and columns of the atrium pointing out the elements of our surroundings invisible to the eye, such as pollution, animals, and chemical elements – everything that makes up theirtotality. It is only natural that a truly conceptual artist would select visual perception, which is the fundament of the dominant culture of our civilization,as the topic of his work and thus state the fact that beyond it lies structure hidden to the eye. Taking what one sees for granted, as in the mimetic art, is simply meaningless.
Aballí has demonstrated his scepticism towards the scientific and technological fundaments of our civilization, i.e. the awareness of their fragility, with a series of objects made by breaking and then attempting to reconstruct laboratory glassware. The miniscule reconstruction is never complete, with fine cracks and gaping, unsalvageable holes which have transformed a functional object into an aesthetic one.
Aballí uses specially produced signs Exhibition continues, or their counterpart -theproverbial arrow sign pointing the direction of movement and signifyingthat the exhibition continues, as exhibits. The apotheosis of signs into the class of art objects does not diminish their functionality within the exhibition as a whole.In the medium of installation, the artist’switty game on the border of the functional and the aesthetical, is realized on the first floor of the Baroque palazzo Milesi, which is nowadays completely emptied of furniture and any trace of life of its previous owners for the needs of the program of the Institute of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.A simple procedure of moving the red curtains from the windows to the walls of the exhibition space instead of the anticipated exhibits,opens spectacular views of palazzo’s medieval surroundings that are usually hidden from the visitors.The simple act of removing the obstruction to the view of reality and its introduction into the exhibition space as an exhibit, is a metaphor for equating art with real life, which was one of the key missions of historical vanguards and conceptual art as their last reverberation.
What Aballí considers to be the nature of painting as the ultimate art object is best expressed in his 1995 artwork entitled Skin. This object of small dimensions carries a strong message.Ithas everything that constitutes the material basis of a painting: surface and the frame over which it is stretched out. However, Aballí made the surface from layers of transparent gel, so that, although stretched on a frame, it does not exist as the visual content. The eye of the beholder only perceives the wall on which the painting hangs, which together with the stretcher frame becomes a self-sufficient visual and aesthetic fact. Tautologically speaking, you can’t get further than the metaphor of Skin.
At the time when art oriented towards the sensual perception, metier skills and collector’s profit is in the focus of attention, Ignacio Aballí’s project the Exhibition continues is a reminder that creativity has a far more important role due to its ability to keep us mentally alert and ready to take a critical stance towards everything that is taken for granted, canonized and conventional, or blurs our perception of the essence of things. The aesthetic dimension is only a key used by artists to open our perception.Art is more important to humans as a cognitive discipline, than a sophisticated way of producing an aesthetic object. Let’s keep that in mind.

Branko Franceschi





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