Within Reach

Mar 16 to Jun 4, 2022

at Dilalica, Barcelona

The artworks by Elena Aitzkoa, Esther Gatón, and Mercedes Mangrané shown in the exhibition Within Reach share an interest in investigating two concepts: scale and material. Scale here is not merely a measurement of proportion and correspondence –to the body, to a space, to an object. It is also a defining aspect of these works that are linked by their engagement with proximity, using materials and themes that are indeed within arm’s reach.

All of these pieces share a certain idea of reconstruction, employing techniques of erasure and accretion which are repeated several times. Making, unmaking and remaking, there is an addition and subtraction distanced from predetermined production processes. So distanced, in fact, that the forces at work here are almost antithetical: the results are achieved in an intuitive dimension where the idea of destruction itself is omnipresent.

Los agujeros y la presión atmosférica son demasiado viejas [The Holes and the Atmospheric Pressure are Too Old] is the title of this grouping of sculptures by Elena Aitzkoa. As pointed out by scholar and curator Soledad Gutiérrez, “her artistic practice emerges from her immediate reality, from the people, places, and sensations that surround her and the conversations that nourish her: the village of Apodaka, the meandering river, the mud, the leaves, Mikel, returning home, watching the sun rise, seeing the rain fall, smelling the dampness.” These quotidian experiences lead to an accumulation of objects, branches, fabric, stone, wood, mud, and other materials that bind together, create a conglomeration, bleed into one another. The sculptures arise from a process of constant transformation that obscures their origins through a series of making-and-unmaking cycles that foreground error and randomness.

One Hammer Coming Your Way by Esther Gatón is a series of drawings made on linen tinted with turmeric. During 2020 and 2021, the artist lived with someone who drank turmeric shots every day in order to bolster their immune system, leaving yellow trails around the house. Influenced by the presence of that color in her home, Gatón began to dye fabric. “I had them boiling in a pot with various amounts of turmeric powder, sometimes I’d add beets or iron oxide; I dried them in the sun, drew on them, dyed them again, drew on them some more, so that some parts of the drawings faded in layers, giving the surface a depth that was beyond my control.” In the drawings we see many things and, at the same time, nothing. However these are not total abstractions, there is enough of a personal language in the line to evoke elements that would not normally be found together.

Mercedes Mangrané’s paintings entail, on one hand, imaginative interrogations of diagnostic imaging technology—ultrasound scans, sonograms, etc.—related to the immediate reality of her pregnancy. On the other hand, there are works that examine the concept of aperture and interstice. Mangrané’s spatula play establishes a range of registers that vacillate between reparatory and destructive, in a chromatic display that explores degradation, unconventional edges, incisions, and surface rupture.

The works are accompanied, throughout the gallery space, by the poem We Pulled Down the Sky by Michael Lawton, a non-linear reflection inspired by the art on display and by Lawton’s own domesticity.