MADRID - THE REOPENING OF GALERÍA ELBA BENÍTEZ AND ITS EXHIBITION “PALABRAS VACÍAS”
Today, Tuesday, May 26th, Galería Elba Benítez announces its reopening with the returning solo exhibition Palabras vacías by IGNASI ABALLÍ, opened on February 28th.
The gallery has all the health guarantees for the protection of employees and visitors through compliance with the health rules established by the corresponding authorities.
“And yet nothing has been changed except what is
Unreal, as if nothing had been changed at all.”
Wallace Stevens, As You Leave the Room
A remarkable aspect of Ignasi Aballí’s 35-year artistic practice has been its capacity to continually evolve through shifts and renewals of style, format and materials, while at the same remaining constant to certain core and lasting concerns. These include the search for ways by which to bring the impulses of a painter to the image-making process without the act of painting or even to paint itself; the incorporation of unconventional materials imported directly from the ‘real’ world into the art object; a skillful harnessing of the poetics of absence, transience, and ephemerality; and an embrace of the oscillatory instability that links language and image. All of this is evident once again in Aballí’s current exhibition at the Galería Elba Benítez.
Titled Palabras vacías (Empty Words), the exhibition consists of two separate installations that line the entirety of the walls of the gallery’s exhibition spaces. The eponymous installation Palabras vacías (2020) is composed of a continuous line of 27 metal stencils, all outlining words that refer in some way to states of absence or non-existence, such as unseen, hidden, invisible, erased, removed, stolen, unthinkable. The stencils, in outlining the outer edges of the letters, might be seen as ‘containing’ the words – or rather, containing negative spaces that communicate the words’ semantic content. Absence communicates absence; the image (as far as there is one) is ‘missing’ and yet at the same time present. Moreover, just as the individual stencils demarcate the edges of the words, the continuous line of stencils demarcates the edges of the exhibition space itself, limning its ‘meaning’ by outlining its perimeter. Thus, Palabras vacías refracts simultaneously across multiple operative levels of verbal and visual communication, effectively distilling and blending Aballí’s long-standing concerns.
The exhibition’s other installation Línea roja (2020) also presents itself as a kind of frieze wrapping around the exhibition space. The work is composed of multiple newspaper clippings in which the color red has been printed. The tones of red vary from clipping to clipping, and the clippings themselves are of a variety of different shapes and sizes. Nonetheless, they are conjoined into a continuous sequence, forming an unbroken but not uniform red strip that exercises a striking visual presence along the gallery’s walls. Moreover, there are words printed on the opposite sides of the clippings, reversed words that can be detected but not easily read behind the red ‘veil’. A red line is a potent and universal metaphor, implying prohibition, warning or alarm; and yet in Línea Roja, the power of the metaphor is shifted into more uncertain territory, lending the work a different and heightened complexity. The deceptively simple yet masterful combination of complexity, depth and delicacy manifested in the exhibition Línea roja is characteristic of Aballí’s entire oeuvre, while on another level the linking of modular-like but subtly differing elements into unbroken sequences in both works on view might be ‘read’ as an emblem of the constancy and change of the ongoing practice that has yielded it. - George Stolz
Trained as a painter, Ignasi Aballí (1958, Barcelona) creates work in a variety of formats, including language-based pieces, conceptually-oriented sculptures, paintings, photographs and videos. While rooted in the practices of conceptual art, Aballí’s work does not eschew the power of the object, but rather stands out for its delicate handling of color and material.
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Cover image: installation commemorating the 30th anniversary of the gallery