Pull the Thread. ARTIUM Collection

From: Friday, 05 October 2012

To: Sunday, 03 February 2013

Place: North, South and Lower East galleries

Three exhibitions from ARTIUM Colection: society, manhood eta art on art.


Pull the Thread is a many-sided project from the ARTIUM Collection with which the museum is commemorating the 10th anniversary of its opening. With an almost 40-year history, the collection has established an overview of art from our immediate cultural context, from the avant-garde that developed in the years preceding the Spanish Civil War until today. The artistic proposals developed in Spain, and in particular the Basque Country and Alava, have throughout these years been the main aim of this contemporary art collection, which was begun by the Provincial Council of Alava in the 1970s. Together with the acquisition and incorporation of many international art deposits over the last decade, this heritage today provides us with a coherent reading of complex contemporary artistic reality, from modernity to the present day. But what is it that these over 3,000 pieces have in common, each so different from the other, so complex, sometimes poignant, ironic, while others are seemingly mute, others strident? Theories drawn from aesthetics, the social sciences or philosophy, but mainly from the field of art itself, have attempted to provide an answer to this question. Through three interconnected exhibitions, Pull the Thread presents a multi-sided approach to that which constitutes the subject of the artistic work process, of art.

The exhibition's premise is based on the conviction that art discourses are aimed at three directions when it comes to their main objectives and these ultimately encompass the complexity of artistic practices.

First, those that are aimed at treating the world, external fields in which the political and social act within a setting that definitively determines where art is critically expressed or at least confirms this. The exhibition Montage of Attractions attempts to address these issues.

Second, the direction of these practices is becoming inward, on an introspective path that is trying to respond in multiple ways to the constant questions we ask about ourselves, from our anguish and the search for any explanation or in transcendent expression. Visceral Soul is the exhibition arising from these issues.

Finally, the third approach to be analysed is art that refers to art. This self-referentiality, so widely displayed throughout the history of art, leads to the desire for self-justification, the approach of the premises that construct and articulate the complexity of the very existence of art through theory and philosophy. Mirror Image attempts to investigate such reasons.

As noted earlier, the first approach is presented in the North Gallery under the title Montage of Attractions. This project has adopted cinema as a reference, establishing a parallel between exhibition montage and film montage in order to present a story resembling the cinematographic from which it will seek to address a – partial and deliberately subjective – review of the ARTIUM collection in terms of its socio-political aspect, with all the contradictions and complexities that this may entail. The basis at all times is a focus from the realm of micropolitics in an attempt to create an aesthetic research environment.

In addition, Visceral Soul is a journey towards the interior of a person, the dark, transgressive side of our nature, as a way of accessing greater knowledge of oneself and after the need to visualise the restlessness of human beings, our desires, anxieties and possibilities. The exhibition in the Lower East Gallery of the museum has introspection as one of its main generative principles, with works that delve beyond social conventions and agreements into that which has been excluded from our shared space because it is grotesque, immoral or non-normative.

And finally, Mirror Image, currently showing in the South Gallery of the museum, looks at the need for art to analyse itself in an attempt at self-regulation, knowledge and reference. The concept of the autonomy of art, art for art's sake, that originated from idealist aesthetics has become one of the foundations of art throughout modernity and is in full force today. The exhibition deals with the practice of art dissecting its own history, the role of the artist, its context and functions.

In all three cases, each exhibition begins with a single work by the artist Jorge Oteiza: Tribute to Velázquez, a conclusive work in the aesthetic development of this artist from Orio and the culmination of his “experimental purpose”, a study on the relationship between void and matter, the space of the sacred and of the human. The work acts as a turning point between artistic praxis and the development of an increasingly conceptual process, aesthetic and linguistic research and his humanist commitment, with social and political implications in his immediate environment. The Jorge Oteiza Foundation in Alzuza, Navarra, has participated in the project with a loan of two studies of this piece, which together with the one acquired by the museum from the artist in 1984, paradoxically allows us to present the same work in the three galleries. The same source for three different exhibitions that provide a comprehensive overview of contemporary art through the ARTIUM Collection.

With the support of:

Cooperation project
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