Banks. Shopping centres, churches, cardboard boxes and disused cinemas: a work for every place and a place for every work. Jordi Abelló’s research to find new formats and places to share his pictorial and audiovisual creation leaves no stone unturned.
The sea in winter is an idea that the mind doesn’t contemplate, as the song says, and like many other tourist towns in winter Cambrils turns into a shadow of its summer self. The strong wind on the empty maritime promenade, lined with closed shops and just a few people lost in their own thoughts.
This is the melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere that Jordi Abelló (Reus, 1970) has chosen to show his latest work Pinzellades perdudes (Lost brushstrokes), an hour-long film which has been shown in the Rambla de l’Art cinema in a single showing with no audience. “As a painter I thought it should be fascinating to see what we never see in detail and in large format, to travel within the painting, making the brushstrokes stronger on the big screen to penetrate into their world. With no sound, no audience and no apparent argument I am trying to recover the essence of painting, the brushstroke and film, movement”, Abelló explains. This radical exhibition experience is now available in two videos: one is a fragment of the original film and the other is a recording of the cinema during the projection.
Pinzellades perdudes is a step further in the artist’s research into the exhaustion of tradition forms of exhibition and the seach for new platforms and places in which to share his work. The film is ideal to from a tryptic together with Vida and Llocs, which are two other iconic projects resulting from Abelló’s innovative and adventurous research.
“Exhibit where you like and when you like is my motto”
Vida, a videographic project looking at the origin of life from the Big Bang to the atomic bomb, managed to turn the TV department of FNAC in Illa Diagonal into an exhibition space one Thursday afternoon. “Televisions are on constantly in big department stores showing nature documentaries for everybody and for nobody, as this is the genre which results in the most sales, according to market research”, says Abelló unabashed in confronting the crowds, the noise pollution and the blinding lights of the shopping centre. “Art needs to return to the real world, detach itself from institutional spaces and penetrate the every day. Exhibit where you like and when you like is my motto”, he continues. Following the action, he saved 22 chapters of Vida on a number of pen drives which, despite the infinite reproducibility of video are unique works…unique and multiple like life itself.
A compulsive draughtsman, Abelló developed the Vida project from drawings which led to him identifying the embryos of aesthetic and formal vocabulary from all vanguards in enlarged images of the microscopic world. So, a mosquito becomes a Romanesque Christ Pantocrator, cells are like “Miró in movement” and the atomic explosion is a “homage to Rothko”. “Television sales are like contemporary altars and when you bend down to look at the price tag it looks like you are kneeling”, says Abelló, whose spirituality is as atypical as his artistic practice.
A rule-breaker and provocateur, without ever being offensive or aggressive, in Llocs his artistic message is transmitted almost clandestinely, having come into possession of the nothing less than the Sunday news sheet – one of the main channels of the Catholic church. “My wish is not to provoke but to find the most appropriate place for each work. Also, religion has always been accompanied by art”, says the artist, who in this work establishes a subtle formal and conceptual parallelism between the living spaces of Christ and Van Gogh. The action, documented by photographer Lluc Queralt, took place last April in the church of Sant Pere de Reus.
For years now Abelló has been exploring places for art beyond the white cube. In 2009 he exhibited in the gorilla enclosure of Barcelona Zoo and in 2012 the 40 portraits of bankers in the Bank series, with the disinterested collaboration of the Nonaspe vulture funds, could be seen on a mobile app in certain banks which had been unknowingly turned into exhibition spaces. His fascination for the view of other living things led him to create the mantis exhibit, with scale models of around 12 centimetres. Don’t miss the reaction of the mantis when you visit the project website.
“Banks, shopping centres, churches and also museums. The place influences the communication of the message. In a globalised and uniform world, you have to reclaim genuine spaces for real art”, he concludes.