Alles auf Gold | die Dame | die Erosion
The first thing the viewer sees is a series of works in which abstraction plays an essential role in the configuration of the elements that compose the exhibition: paintings, collages, books and installations made specifically for the space. The artist talks about fashion in relation to the contemporary image we have of the human body; about art and its responsibility in the creation of our image of the body; about the relationship of fashion with the procedures of the avant-garde and the responsibility that these artists had in the creation of this new body imaginary.
In the installation, Ubay Murillo (Tenerife, Spain, 1978) also uses the arrangement of the pedestals to draw attention to the concomitances between commercial displays and the displays of avant-garde exhibitions. The pedestal establishes a relationship of physical and ideological support with the merchandise/object/artwork and also positions itself as an artistic object per se.
The elegant surfaces and chic spaces that the artist installs in the gallery —in which the materials radiate sensations— imply an aestheticization of the materials (thus pointing to how the aestheticization of politics or ideology are close to consumerism and how human relations are, de facto, mercantile relations). The word chic is the French onomatopoeia of the sound of the cutting of the guillotine during the French Revolution. If that sound and the visualization of capital punishment were considered the most modern, elegant and distinguished of the moment, we can think that the beginning of the French Revolution —the founding act of an era— also revealed an anticipated reflection of the future. A dire omen that has reached this post-crisis time as ghostly bodies —disjointed and fragmented by digital retouching— which constitute our present, and which were already made visible by the artists of the early twentieth century.
Despite the references to the avant-garde, it is not about referencing these movements, but the way in which they have been digested as styles and have occupied a position in our worldview. It becomes clear how the avant-garde went from the intention of fusing art and life to a school of design that mutated over time, from mass production to exclusivity and refined consumption. In this sense, Ubay Murillo has painted two Russian plates created by artists for the State Porcelain Factory after the Russian Revolution of 1917 (one in a “revolutionary” version and the other in a “neo-liberal” version, as he explains). These plates, conceived to democratize access to porcelain that only the upper class could buy, are now sold at auction at prices four times the minimum wage in many European countries. The title or the phrases that adorned them give the measure of how insanely brutal the later decades in Russia (and the brutal insanity of our present) were to be. The title of these identical works presented here could not be more eloquent; it is taken from what reads on one of the original plates: “Wer nicht mit uns ist, ist gegen uns” (“he who is not with us, is against us”).
That avant-garde also became visible to the artist when he realized two things: On the one hand, the similarity of both the clothes and the attitudes of the models in the magazines he bought between 2008 and 2018 —the framework in which the crisis is inscribed— to the fashion of the interwar years. On the other hand, the formal continuity between art deco and constructivism as a metaphorical space for talking about the contradictions of the present.
The language of that period was quickly taken up by the fashion magazines of the immediately following period. Radical language that was translated into a language of consumption. The bodies that carried that fashion would also be subjected to a brutal dismemberment both in the field of the arts and in the battlefields. Were the artists of the avant-garde victims or accomplices of that bodily dismemberment that shook and crossed the first half of the twentieth century? It is a very complex question that does not allow for an unequivocal answer. We do know that their visual successes —we think that the textual and visual grammar inaugurated by avant-garde artists is not pure form, but a way of seeing and thinking— were assumed by a system that took avant-garde images to the collective imaginary at the cost of annulling their subversive potential (or so it seems at first glance). It made it profitable at the cost of images that anticipated and helped to visualize the crisis of the 20th century.
The credit crisis of the last decade has caused the physical body and the social body to be subjected to a dismemberment that, in a way, is reminiscent of what artists saw a hundred years ago, and which we have witnessed almost paralyzed. The images we see in the mass media and in trend magazines have so many references and elements of that era that we must ask ourselves if these images now presented in this exhibition are a memory of both moments —the past and, above all, the present— and, in addition, like an oracle, they pose a confusing future of gray tones.
This will be the first time we can enjoy in Seville the work of Ubay Murillo, artist whose work has already been shown in important exhibitions in Tenerife, Madrid, Santander, Milan, Bremen, Berlin, Santander and Mexico, among many other places.
Simultaneously, in Hall II of our Gallery you can visit the exhibition “Around the Body”, curated by Rafael Ortiz and Ubay Murillo, and in which the works of guest artists are related to this exhibition.