DL review: Pepe Espaliú at garcía galería / Madrid

Pepe Espaliú

In those 25 years (En estos 25 años)
Curated by Jesús Alcaide

13 September - 10 November, 2018

garcía galería
C/ Doctor Fourquet 8, izda
28012 Madrid

Twenty-five years after the performance “Carrying” that happened in San Sebastian and Madrid, both in Spain, we can see the broader picture, not in terms of measurements, but in the selection of his pieces according to when he did them. A retrospective of a key artist in the history of contemporary Spanish art, who became more recognisable essentially after he made public that he had been diagnosed with AIDS. His illness made a special impact on his development, and when he learned about the diagnosis, he flew to Mexico, perhaps thinking of forgetting what had happened. However, after realising that he couldn’t make any changes, he moved to New York where he simplified and reoriented his iconography towards his illness, speaking about that in his pieces. At some point, he boldly accepted it on an artistic level and he produced some of his most important works.

At that time, it was believed that AIDS was contagious with only one contact with an infected person and, therefore, his goal was to make people understand that AIDS was a matter of society as a whole. That moment marked a before and after in Espaliú’s career. Renowned for his approach to art, even though for him it was a therapy, his work is all around the symbiosis of political and poetic symbols, which he was using far from the propagandistic style. Strongly influenced by coetaneous writers, poets and psychoanalysts, Espaliù created an intense and coherent body of works, recurring to signs such as scars, crutches, wheelchairs, masks and gloves. In a period of time when Spanish artists were mainly showing locally, Espaliù travelled around the globe, taking part in different shows, as part of a group and individually. 

At “In these 25 years,” we had the pleasure of rediscovering again the master, by seeing works for the first time, and even a few of them from a long time ago: artworks from private and public collections and from different decades and periods of Espaliù’s career. The shape of the show is immensely versatile as it’s made for those who are in love with the artist and with the aim of presenting him for the first time to the people that don’t know him.

The show gathers pieces which review his works, thanks to a selection made together by Garcia Galería and the curator Jesús Alcaide. An updated revision of his legacy can be seen, a selection of works that expresses his interests in sexuality and spirituality and the traumas and fears that are linked to both of them, works that bring him conceptually closer to other artists from his generation and from previous ones, like Walter Dahn or Louise Bourgeois, amongst others.

María Gracia de Pedro