If I should think of a name for Jesús Galdón’s installation I would name it “The paint(ing) spirit”. This installation consists of a container, made with frames, that delimitates a space more or less closed. Inside, there is a selection of artworks, that have too their own proper value “Camins d’aigua” (fragment) 1999, “L’Escala” (2000), “El Bressol mític” (2000), “La Lluna o astre de poca intensitat” (2000), “Els interiors infinits” (2000), “El Núvol que en realitat és una idea” (2001). But, altogether, as it was presented in Teruel, this installation is a meditation on the poetical fact or about Art based on the object.
In Catalonia -I don’t know if it is the same all over the country- there are other artists who work in that direction. I do not think we could talk here about a tendency, but here there are Joan Brossa, Perejaume, Jordi Alcaraz who affronted too the problems of creation, poetry or painting through the world of the object. I had the opportunity to talk with Jesús Galdón about this subject. He points out an idea of continuity, it is -as he said to me- nothing about watching the different influences or original ideas, but about some ideas and methods whose complexity requires going deep into it, just re-elaborating and continuing.
I don’t know if it is equally for the artists that I have already mentioned -I don’t know them that well- but in my opinion, Jesús Galdón’s work is directly related to Pop-Art. I am not talking here about the Pop-Art topics as consumer objects and the use of the media, but as a method to take possession of images and to work with them. To me Pop-Art is, above all, an emotional appropriation of images and I look at Jesús Galdón’s work in this way.
The strategies that Pop-art uses are a formula to approach the enigma of images. I will give some examples that will help to explain my point of view. Michelangelo Antonioni’s Film “Blow Up” is a metaphor for the mystery of images and an initiation journey. The film is about a photographer who takes pictures in a public park. The developing work reveals that those pictures, apparently innocuous, contained a secret. It is interesting to remember that after some amplifications, the photographer narrows and knows by intuition the mystery that was hidden. After this developing work, the little blurred spot is concreted into a specific shape. So did this photographer, but Pollock did it too, he worked with some Pop-art strategies: amplifications, repetitions, manipulations of the images…Finally Polke uses a means: the radiography. This means allows him to discover that there is a hidden image under a Goya’s painting: a pigment coat hides a mysterious image. Salvador Dali, fascinated by Millet’s Angelus, uses too a radiographic means; this Catalan artist knows by intuition that the magnetism of this painting lays inside, under the visible surface. With his radiographies, Dali revealed no hidden images, but he discovered something more disturbing, a mysterious stain in the geometrical middle of this painting. Dali’s radiography reveals no secret but shows signs of something strange: a secret below the visible. Hamilton and Warhol too, duplicating Marilyn Monroe’s image, are searching to discover the mystery that remains into this icon.
There is a term to explain those procedures, or the way of approaching the mystery of images: to scrutinize. This, in psychoanalytical literature, relates to fetishism. The repetitions, the amplifications, the radiographies of Polke, Dali, Warhol and Hamilton, they all want to scrutinize the image; they search the secret fascination of the image. To scrutinize means to look for just to reveal that there was something hidden.
Jesús Galdón works the image through the object. I can imagine him, like this child that mounts and dismantles a clock just to discover the secret of time. But here, Jesús Galdón is looking for the secret of paint(ing). He works on the materiality of paint(ing), the frame-work of Art. If Art is nothing to be defined, if it is really ineffable, if there is no word to explain it, Jesús Galdón approaches painting through what is tangible: the stretcher, the white canvas…all that constitutes the frame-work and materials of a painting. It is a question of magical thought: It would be possible to reach a revelation scrutinizing materials, like the shaman or sorcerer of a primitive culture. The shaman works out a totem, carved in a tree trunk, and takes possession of the spirit of nature.
But this reference to the Pop does not help to explain Jesús Galdón installation. There are other references, among them a basic one that could be called the romantic search of absolutes. During an interview Jesús Galdón said: “emptiness and white spaces generate images and meditations”. As a matter of fact the reduction of painting to its skeleton, a white canvas, the slight-smooth fine silk and its transparency, the stairs that point out to the infinite, are aspects, among others, that remind me of Malevich and the cloudy landscapes of Romanticism. The white spaces that Jesús Galdón presents us are an encouragement for meditation. Like a Zen garden, there is no absence but a production of sense. But I will tackle this subject another day. By now, it is interesting to point out how, through the object and the skeleton of painting, we can intuit the unmentionable.
Jaume Vidal Oliveras
Historian, art critic and curator.