It is my first sunny Saturday without a cold wind gusting here in Spain. The sea is still, the air is tranquil with bird song and spring aromas. The quiet before Festivo Dia del Andalucia on Monday no doubt. When from out of seemingly nowhere it will appear, noisy, full of colourful pride. And indeed after mixed weeks of windy, cold, misty albeit sunny weather, the village will say a collective hola to each other as the nights lighten, and the narrow lit passage ways stop resembling a whispering rendition of elusive figures, scuttling down streets in a Spanish version of Don’t Look Now.
It is this Spain, the Spain that has evolved through turmoil and internal conflict that artist Fernando Sanchez Castillo takes apart and re-assembles. Blowing apart the kinds of meaningful symbolic gestures that are given status of reassurance not just in Spain but all over the world: The ideologies of power structures that have given kudos to, absorbed through the everyday, iconic traditions and endorsed meaning.
His work is simple to understand and yet powerful, a sometimes funny look through sculptures, films and objects. He shows how these representations can have a different meaning to their exalted status. As in the case of war statues (as in his bronzes). If their representation were made by any other means than the accepted status quo they could be seen to exalt acts of criminality.
Method of Discourse, is the name of his current exhibition at CAC Malaga on until the 3rd of April.
MOD : Fernando Sanchez Castillo
All was not obvious initially. The exhibition, if you had never seen his work before, seemed at first glance to house a number of dis-associated pieces. Although an obvious style was present; with *assembled* pieces and a simple clarity in the use of matter. The meaning appeared ambiguous yet at the same time seemed deeper.
A urinal which sat next to a bike wheel fixed onto a stool. The obvious (Duchamp) reference, was later, on seeing another aspect of this piece tucked away within a short film showing its origins, put paid to and was playfully, superfluously tossed aside.
The *paintings* seemed on first sight like code, the symbolic stark black brush strokes were given some sort of order on the canvases and white paper, which were pinned and stuck to the wall.
With names like Two Crossing and Two Rotating and with some brush strokes venturing off the canvas onto the skirting board and floor. One was given the name Until The Brush Runs Out of Paint.
The contrast of two colourful canvases one with violent vibrant splashes seemingly smashed onto it complete with egg shells stuck to its surface. And paint spattered on the gallery floor in evidence of its making.
Bronzes of everyday objects like trainers, tyres, a moped, an oil can, a bottle and a tree trunk assembled on the floor with would-be meaningful precision.
A set of rusting Iron rods and cylinder, placed on the floor with stark manufactured symbolism. A rusting gesture of direction, like a dehumanised cairn or a vagrant code.
They all seemed to be saying something of where the artist was taking the whole as an idea.
Two films set apart yet running concurrently on one wall gave insight to the artists method and ideas.
The first film, Pegasus Dance or Ballet For (anti-riot) Water Cannon Vehicle;
(see the video below)
Its playful *dance* is set to, I think, the musical introduction of melancholy Tchaikovsky followed by a vibrant Strauss waltz. As the two engines slowly become friends and as one playfully teases the water cannon, they begin to move with each other in a friendship dance ritual with their water jets. Apparently in one part the drivers weren’t too keen to play *chase* following the others water *tail*.
The film running concurrently to this also explained with *dance* how the actual making of the static components of the exhibition had come to be:
The paintings had come about with the aid of pre-programmed robots (of the type that occupy the paint shops within the car industry). Indeed the music, overlapping and in ear shot from Pegasus Dance, when synched with this film, seemed purposely reminiscent of the Renault/Picasso advert of a few years ago. The robots performed a dance which was almost human; with their efforts to retrieve things like a dropped paint brush. A symbiotic dance of synchronised gestures between themselves and the canvas.
All the while having been pre-programmed by the artist.
The smashes of colour and eggs were just that, as the robots had dropped balloons filled with colour from a height along with the eggs, onto a canvas on the gallery floor.
Another canvas was so full of colour, almost like a spin painting.Though that, like the Duchamp reference was soon to be dismissed. This had been taken out into a quarry where a robot had been programmed to aim and shoot at it with paint, creating a surprisingly soft and powdered effect.
And finally the urinal; a robot sneakily entered into one of the gallery’s toilets, and, precision-wrenching it from the wall, carried the porcelain carefully into the gallery placing it on its new resting place, a plinth within the exhibition.
A perfectly apt and humorously constructed method of deployment to illustrate our increasingly dehumanised power structures. And their intertwined programmed methods within human discourse.
A Method of Discourse, Fernando Sanchez Castillo at CAC Malaga