De lo perdido y lo recuperado. Javier Hernández Landazabal

From: Friday, 07 June 2019

To: Sunday, 15 September 2019

The artist presents a series of sculptures and their subsequent representation in painting, artefacts that pay homage to –or satirise– the context of art, while criticising consumerism

Curator: Daniel Castillejo
Produced by Artium Museum

The artistic career of Javier Hernández Landazabal (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1959) as a draughtsman, illustrator and especially as a painter is commonly and quite rightly so associated with realism, a technique that he has cultivated over the past three decades, imbuing it with a dose of critical analysis of today’s art and the creative process.

In Everything Lost and Recovered, the artist presents a specific part of his production, which has always been painstaking, slow and meticulous, extending over a period of many years to lead to a limited number of examples. The exhibition therefore contains ten sculptures and the pictorial versions of nine of these –the tenth belongs to a private collector and could not be located– with the first dating back to 1993. All are about doing things slowly and meticulously, in which the complexity of the process is not a secondary element. The end result is a series of “installations” of a very baroque, dramatic and theatrical nature.

Go on reading +

Everything actually begins with a spark, a sporadic impulse that the artist responds to by gradually creating a mechanical artefact, a three-dimensional collage of objects that have been recovered and collected over time. All methodically assembled and connected to electric or rope motors by following a preconceived plan in which invited agents such as air or music are also able to intervene. This leads to a contraption endowed with mechanical movement and the capacity for repetitive, hypnotic choreography. Icons of popular culture (Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny), of art history (Bosch, Duchamp, Picabia) and of the artist’s own life combine together in the ten unlikely machines displayed in this exhibition.

Between constructing the object and representing it on a canvas, Hernández Landazabal introduces an intermediate act. The artist does not paint “from nature”. His process requires an additional step of representation: an equally painstaking, measured photographic reproduction of the object in terms of perspective, lighting and staging. Photography strips it of its three-dimensionality, its movement, part of its metaphorical capacity and its aura of object touched by the artist. It is precisely this frozen, emptied image that becomes the painter’s model, although he always keeps his original machine within view.

Painting is the end of the process. A work (oil on linen) painted in a realistic, baroque style and executed with the slow, meticulous pace that characterises Javier Hernández Landazabal. The artist thus concludes a game of paradoxes and verisimilitudes in which the real, however absurd it may be, and its painted image, however realistic it may be, intervene. 

Everything Lost and Recovered takes its name from a verse by Jorge Luis Borges in his poem The Tango. Just as this Argentine writer rescues names, places and objects from oblivion “in the strings / of an obstinate and elaborate guitar”, Hernández Landazabal constructs, stages and paints these totems of memory, an absurd tangle of icons, a combination of past and present, in order to ask once again the age-old, complex questions about reality and representation, about language, about art that speaks of art and about the passage of time.

From this subtle play of correspondence between painting and sculpture, Javier Hernández Landazabal sends signals to the viewer about his way of interpreting the world by using paradox, sarcasm, criticism, irony, word games, cultural and popular references, as well as a certain nihilism.

These and other themes and resources are also alluded to in the titles of his works: La suerte y la muerte, Arte-ficio dadá, Tiempo muerto, L’esprit de l’escalier… In the last of these, for example, a human skull appears over a book, positioned at the top of a ladder and lit by a light bulb. As Antonio Altarriba explains in his text for the exhibition catalogue, the spirit of the ladder refers to the brilliant idea that arrives too late, when the reply is already impossible, “a lost opportunity, a glimmer that can no longer illuminate, a light bulb that is lit after death”.

In any case, these works by Hernández Landazabal can be read in many ways, ranging from those already put forward about art and its sphere of interest to others linked to other fields of existence: transcendence, the meaning of life and death, consumerism, excessive waste production, programmed obsolescence…

Exhibition's leaflet  More about the artist (in Spanish)  Opening programme  Additional texts  

This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand