Juan Carlos Meana. NOS[YO]OTROS

From: Friday, 07 June 2019

To: Sunday, 15 September 2019

The artist raises questions linked to one’s own individual identity, in relation to society and power systems

Curator: José Ángel Artetxe
Exhibition produced by Artium Museum

The exhibition NOS[ YO ]OTROS presents the latest work by Juan Carlos Meana (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 1964) and also contains several recognisable elements (flagpole, mirrors, plates...) of his workmanship, in addition to three pieces that serve to link previous stages in the evolution of his work. These are the video Confidencias del deseo (2007), the photograph Sin país (2012) and the sculptural piece Faltan héroes para darle la vuelta al mundo (2012-2018).

NOS[ YO ]OTROS expounds on Meana’s primary concerns for outlining a counter-history that strives to clear away the collapse of the epic and major certainties. We are individuals and yet also form part of a group, a twofold approach that leads him to analysis a precarious, fragile present raised to construct identity. Should we prioritise political or cultural conflicts? But are these not inseparable? If we question ourselves about this, we must be willing to admit errors and discover the blind spots of our own socialisation or environment.

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Meana now increasingly uses media, techniques and disciplines, among which new materials are discovered (soap, bullet casings, measuring tools, marble...) that fulfil an almost iconic function of unity for “out-of-format” pieces. They are the shells of bullets and projectiles as the extreme violence of the system, or soaps that appear to be used, alluding to conflicts of which we have washed our hands, and bars of soap, alluding to industrial process based on human fat (Nazism), also the result of human effort and cost.

NOS[ YO ]OTROS is about the relationship of the individual, of the subject, with the community. A not always comfortable and at times tense relationship that marks the limits of identity in relation to the outside: borders, the foreign, and in relation to the inside: what are the internal modes of social organisation that stop individual subjects from losing their identity and help to construct them in order to develop community? These elements of identity are always undergoing a process and pass through an ethical dimension for oneself in seeking personal identity, a political dimension for the plurality of others and an ecological dimension or relationship with the environment, the world and the cosmos.

Divided into six series (Laboratorio de conflictos, Comunidad, Pertenencia, Asépticos, Después de Narciso and Creencias), it contains various elements that symbolically suggest this tension by their disposition. The different series coexist with each other, blending in to the exhibition by alluding to various aspects and nuances.
Juan Carlos Meana belongs to a generation of artists from Alava who share at least three common traits: 1) trained in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of the Basque Country in the 1980s, 2) initiated their professional career around Trayecto Galería and Sala Amárica in Vitoria, and 3) who have at the same time been teaching since the 1990s in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Vigo, where Meana is Professor of the Department of Painting.

Commencing with painting, his work in the expanded space of sculpture, as it was once known, or in the field of installation, became recognizable by including plaster casts and household goods, mirrors, posts without insignia and flags recalling shrouds, as well as display cases that question or hinder observation. In pieces that always seem fragile and precarious, austere and silent. Dealing with themes that range from looking as an instrument of knowledge, the myth of Narcissus (there is a video in the exhibition on this series) or the subject, to that of the creative process, personal and socio-political identity or power.

Presenting the pieces, which always function as rehearsals –rather than as finished works– in an enabling wait of progress and creation, through the recurrence of a spirit and several approaches that lead to a crisis of thought and of the work itself. In this way, Meana conceives art as a form of knowledge in a quest to be able to build this knowledge to include the unknown and always uncertainty, something more to reach. The questioning of origin and a determination to achieve something new are constituent steps of the creative act, linked in turn to the strangeness of creation and the awareness of failure, that the project will not be fully achieved, in order to offer creation as the artist’s experience and demand that the experience be completed by the spectator’s contemplation.

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

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