The Dalton Gang

Los Dalton arises from the collaboration between Miguel Fructuoso, María Sánchez and Miguel Ángel Tornero. The starting point of this exhibition is color blindness, a visual alteration that causes difficulty in perceiving colors. When Miguel Ángel Tornero and María Sánchez were beginning conversations about how to tackle this project in 2019, they learned that their friend and painter Miguel Fructuoso had just been diagnosed with color blindness. This coincidence initiated an intense collaboration between the three of them that has materialized in a series of works -paintings, videos and installation- that start from the complexity in the search for consensus on color to, in turn, question even the most universal conventions. The chromatic negotiation is joined by the negotiation required by the collaborative dimension of the project, whose members have to put aside their individual practice to make room for agreement. According to the artists themselves, the pieces that make up the exhibition are the procedural document of a transit and an attempt -perhaps unproductive, because impossible- to put themselves in the other’s place.

A first iteration of this project was exhibited at Dilalica in 2020. Subsequently, Los Dalton expanded the number of works in dialogue with the pictorial production of Granada painter Jose Guerrero, in which the use of color is a central aspect. The results were exhibited at the José Guerrero Center in 2023.

The Ishihara tests consist of circular drawings containing numbers in a range of colors ranging from green to red, and are used to diagnose color blindness; the ability to distinguish the number from the background is what determines whether or not someone is color blind and to what degree. The artists selected some of the tests - specifically those in which Miguel had failed - and printed them in large format so that Fructuoso, accompanied by Sánchez and Tornero, could try to reproduce them. In some cases, this reproduction was successful, although not thanks to Fructuoso’s correct perception of color, but to his ability to match one tone to another even if he did not perceive it accurately. The result is a series formalized in diptychs. The work on the left is an enlarged print of the test sheet, in the margin of which Fructuoso paints color tastings in an attempt to replicate the tone of each of the circles. To the right of this is the new painted reproduction. Sometimes the artist cannot distinguish between the tones and make a faithful copy of the original; on other occasions, despite not seeing the symbol that hides the original sheet, he is able to match the tones and make an almost exact copy. This process of work, of trial and error, was recorded in the video piece El camino de arriba.

The methodology of copying, that attempt to reproduce color from a different perception, is applied in the context of this exhibition to three paintings by José Guerrero: Offer with red, Sapen green and Olive green coexist with their color-blind version. The three original paintings were processed by a digital filter that simulated the colors as a severely color blind person would see them, and then replicated in paint in that color. The public is thus forced to see from the perspective of other eyes, those of a colorblind person. This pictorial gesture is based on a historical anecdote, related to the friendship that existed between Guerrero and Bill, the name by which the painter addressed William Talbot, a colorblind sculptor who was a close friend of the family. According to Tony Guerrero, son of the Granada painter, William’s wife fondly remembered the conversations in which Bill would ask José to try to evoke colors for him. Such was his influence that Talbot has since introduced elements of color into his cement sculptures. Along with the original paintings, the replicas of Guerrero’s paintings manifest the differences in visual perception of the two friends.

In a similar gesture, but this time in audiovisual format, Desdoblamiento daltónico de José Guerrero confronts the video of Alberto Portera Guerrero painting a picture (1968) with a replica that has been manipulated by applying a filter that simulates an alteration in the perception of color. Both videos can be viewed on two monitors side by side.

The video Romance somnambulist colorblind reproduces the experience of perceiving colors as a colorblind person in a web browser thanks to the Sim Daltonism application. Google searches are dictated by the poem Romance sonámbulo by Federico García Lorca, giving rise to a certain tension between listening and looking. The results become a visual accumulation of image banks, a universal iconography dictated by Google’s own algorithm, which in this case allows us to question a double convention: that of color and that of stereotype.

Documentation of the process of reproducing the Ishihara test plates by Miguel Fructuoso, a painter recently diagnosed with colorblindness.

For the temporary installation Línea, the artists invited thirty colorblind people from Granada to collectively paint a line of color that surrounds the walls of the room, thus occupying one of the main spaces of the museum. Each participant chose a color from more than a hundred shades of paint, trying to reproduce the tone of the last painted section. From this line emerge questions that go beyond the pictorial gesture, but point to the impossibility of language, of whatever kind, to convey any idea with total accuracy.

In the line of recognition and reconciliation with our oddities and altered perceptions, the video Ser verde aims to illustrate, this time with contemporary domestic tools, that Sesame Street song in which Kermit the Frog, in an endearing and lucid exercise of analysis, listed some of the reasons why “it’s not so easy to be green”.