In this exhibition called Insignificando, (something akin to unmeaning or unsignifying), I am presenting some of the works I have produced since 2019 divided into two different series that work well together as a set.
Both these subsets—which bear the titles “Great Black Chickens” and “American imperialism is…”—examine the sign, the symbol and the inexplicable functioning of master-signifiers that have the power to put people to work for free, when we all know just how hard that is. Father and motherlands, flags, gods, the team colours, honour…
The techniques I’ve used for these works are pencil drawing and collage, both of which are often associated with childhood, with an economy viewed as deficit, which is to say, as surplus, and with a deliberate waste of time, enterprises in which I consider myself to be an expert.
I believe, maybe naively, that the right choice of technique can spark that magical moment of connection, without overlooking the polysemy implicit in any effort to communicate. Or perhaps not, the truth is I don’t really care. Well, I do actually, I do care.
I can identify with the way the impressionists worked: go outside, take a look at the world around you, see how the sun, the air, the elements and the screens of our devices reflect things and try to capture the moment. Although the moment vanishes in the moment.
What is the mechanism that makes the sum of a signifier (for instance a flag) and a signified—the image, the meaning they produce—so different? What makes somebody a patriot and someone else a person who just sees a piece of cloth with stripes of colours flying from a pole? A symbol of power shared by many cultures or a well-feathered bird?
I was thinking about a statement by… I can’t remember who, that said that speaking beings have a tendency towards mental weakness.
Spinoza said that our life is no more than an everyday invocation of signs, and if there is one thing that characterizes signs then that is the fact that they are variable, associative and ambiguous.
I suppose that’s the reason I am so obsessed with culture and how it affects us, shapes us, forms us and especially how it deforms us. I am talking about real culture, the legacy that is passed down to us, that composite of the psychological state of our forebears and those who have gone before us, and the mental state of the heroes who lead our destinies and of our places of birth, and probably some other factor I’ve forgotten or am unaware of.
That’s why, whenever I have to explain my work, I have to describe it as a struggle against culture, and if I use the word ‘struggle’ it is because I believe that ‘fighting’
is a bit too much. I’ll leave that to the idealists. I’m one of those people who never set themselves goals because that way I am never disappointed. My project in a world waiting for signs is insignificant but it’s enough for me.
P.S. All my respects to the painter mentioned in Don Quixote, who was so bad that after painting a cock he had to write “this is a cock” beneath it in order to create meaning.
Calle Heros / Heros Kalea 2, 48009 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain