Hablando Español Con Visual Therapy: Index 1.0 // Spanish Art Group Show
What is it about visual arts that makes it so that you need not know anything about the artist, their language or their story for it to speak to you? How is it that a sheer compilation of images, shapes and colors carry so much more than the sum of their parts?
On the night of May 10, after having wound my way up Visual Therapy’s staircase, I found myself somewhat relieved at the lack of fanfare on the gallery floor. Framed images lined the plain white walls as people huddled in front of a particular piece, quietly whispering, discussing their different interpretations – no hired photographers, no cocktails to go with your stroll, no pamphlets – just the art, and those who came out to experience it. It was refreshing. I don’t know about you, but some of these shows can get overwhelming with the amount of things calling for your attention. Whether the constant need to say “excuse me” as you contort yourself between people, trying not to get a drink spilled on you while some photographer blinds you with their flash, you hoping to God they don’t capture the awkwardness as you Catherine Zeta-Jones your way through the ruckus, but nowhere near as sexy. But, I digress.
Up next, Zaragoza born Arantxa Recio Parra is a visual artist, muralist, freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in Spain. Unlike Ka’s work, hers tell vivid stories. One who enjoys a wide spectrum of expression, she loves drawing, narrative, color, typography and street art, and has hundreds of characters that she says make good friends. It was ‘La Fiera De Mi Niña’ that spoke to me. It wasn’t until I came to write this piece that I even learned what that means, at least according to Google translate: “The Bringing Up of My Baby.” The piece disturbed me. Her bright red lips encircled sharp white teeth, disproportionately long, slinky arms wrapped around her frame, and yet her eyes were soft. I’m not quite sure what she was trying to say, or if she was trying to say anything at all, but I do know how it made me feel, and I suppose, that was enough. Before I’d even had a chance to break from ‘La Fiera De Mi Niña,’ Laguna’s ‘I Inherited the Memory of Knowing You’ was silently calling.
As none of these artists were there in person, most of the information I’d gathered on them had been through a simple online search. Laguna however, was not so easy to find. Then as my alternative research methods began to kick in, I stopped myself, and said it doesn’t matter. A mixed media piece of acrylic and collage, ‘I Inherited the Memory of Knowing You’ depicts a large figure, hunched over, almost out of sheer exhaustion or even despair, holding an umbrella, shielding what looks to be a small, erect human statue from pouring rain, as though too powerless to walk away. A mere 396 cm2 (18 x 22 cm) of paint and cut outs spoke all of that. Whether that is the story or my projection onto it, it didn’t matter.
Of all the works on display, probably the most popularly known was ‘Whale Song,’ a collaborative work of graffiti artist Isaac Malakkai and Taioba. Known for his animals laced with irony and a particular dark sense of humor, a whale with its tail chopped off pierces through rings of tattoo artist Taioba’s abstract lettering. Although intrigued by the hidden message of the chopped off tail and wanting desperately to know if those letters actually meant anything, it was Malakkai’s ‘The Irresistible Fixation of Unconsciousness By Finding Herself’ that solicited my attention. As though you had opened a secret portal to life’s secrets, the side view of a woman’s face is perfectly framed with her head split open. From the base of her skull, a glowing golden light holds the roots of growing flowers enclosing her head, coming full circle at base. It was a while before I moved on from her.
Inspired by the classical Spanish theatre of his hometown, Skount views life as a one big play, telling the story of many uniquely beautiful characters in which everyone has a significant role. And as plays go, Skount believes we all wear masks as we try to accommodate for socially acceptable norms, and we only take those masks off for a chosen few. Fascinated by world cultures and traditions, Skount travels the world over studying art and forms of expression. His works draw you into a dream state of different dimensions and makes it so that you have no choice but to completely free your mind if you were to understand his work at all.