What the stones say, keep the trees quiet
Jesús Galdón exhibition at the lapidary warehouse of the Manresa Museum

On What the stones say, they call the trees, the artist Jesús Galdón uses some of the pieces stored in this space to, through eight interventions – two of which, double – question the relationship between nature and culture, identity and memory, and reflect on the essence of time.

The ordering criterion, the need for answers – this is culture – is able to transform a landscape into a quarry, a stone into a dreaming pillow, or the vacuum in cultural construction. Similarly, nature can sink roots in culture, the lost light of the buildings to revive, or the sculpted stone back to being pebble of river.

Through memory we continually rebuild our identity. A sculpture with a mirror per face can borrow our gaze, and a key to the earth reflected in the sky lifts us to the ground: nature is a cultural fact, a mirror that refects his perpetual question. And the time, the deployment of an eternal return that reverses everything.

The exposition consists of eight artistic interventions that extend and interact with the pieces of the tombary warehouse. These are: Alphabet, Jacob's dream, the memory of the stones, where the painting comes from, the sky in the head, lux, the three gazes and against quarry.

Texts by Ricard Mas



What is the use of a library if we can not read? Language is the catalyst that straightens the chaos into knowledge. Language, however, is a complex construction, based on the alphabet. Letters that combine to construct words and possess what we call reality.

What is the difference between a quarry and a library? The language of our look. If we cannot read, a library becomes raw material. Without an alphabet that articulates our language, this warehouse can be a quarry. The alphabet that the artist presents to us symbolically is an invitation to make the contents of this warehouse intelligible, to discover and to think of the memory of something that is apparently not there, but is hidden.

In the Book of Genesis (28, 10-22), Jacob sleeps with a stone per head. All dreaming, he sees a staircase that, from the ground, goes to heaven; and he talks to God. It is the stone that has given Jacob the chance of accession. As he wakes, he recognizes it, the plant as a pillar and enshrines it all in oil.

The stone gives Jacob knowledge, just as art gives us the dream of knowledge.

When we sculpt the stone, we shape it to draw a memory, and also to make this knowledge last. In this warehouse, it is the stone itself that sleeps Jacob's dream on a pillow. We have given it the strength to dream.

The eye creates, and our brain fills the gaps. In this case, two sepulchre-decomposed tapes, each on a steel mirror that returns our gaze.

In one, the gaps are occupied by stones collected in nature. Every stone sculpted by man's hand comes from nature and, over the centuries, its features will be erased and re-formed into its original universe. On the other, the gaps have been filled with recycled plastics, coloured vinyls, plastic flowers...

These are two ways to deconstruct, beyond the museographic reconstruction that attempts to return to the original image. And it's that every reconstruction is a temporary pattern that can be reverted.

The oracle of Dodona was the oldest in Greece. The prophets of Dodona, inaccessible to bribes, heard the answers in the sounds the wind caused in the sacred oaks.

In an ironic twist of the situation, the trees above this warehouse, instead of responding, attempt to sadd their thirst for knowledge by plunging their roots in search of stones.

The memory is a repository, sometimes embodied in stone. And the dialogue between nature and culture is bi-directional. We looked for the answer in the wind – they did it thousands of years ago in Dodona and Bob Dylan is still doing it everywhere – on the stones worked or even on Google, but the important thing is the question. Where do we come from?

The worst fear of the ancient Celts was, literally, "to bring their sky to their head". In contrast, Gothic cathedrals held their stone sky with vaulted nails where the highest values were represented, in the light of a cosmogony inspired by the Book of Revelation.

Natura and culture are two faces, reversible, of the same phenomenon. The vault keys of buildings that are no longer rest on the ground while in the sky an eye-mirror turns our eyes in context: us with the turn key. Another look gives us a screen of the ceiling being, where nature and culture alternate. They're like two eyes in the sky where we can discover, for moments, what they see. A sky in a basement.

Many of the items stored in this space come from destroyed churches. In all architecture, the weakest elements are those that allow light to pass. From the wave of destruction in 1936, the only remains of stained glass were the small fragments that were in the midst of massive stone blocks.

Six stained glass fragments recover, as humbly as possible, their primordial function. Among all weave an elementary geometric figure, created from six basic colors. The counterpart to this piece is given by its negative twin, created from identical, black molds that retain light. Through a minimal gap, we can guess the color each denies. Does the light have any memory?

Three identical sculptures that have lost their faces. Its entity is insecure, conceptual but also physically; that's why they're stuck with wooden crutches. He points his identity to a mask he makes of a mirror. The sculpture has been given a faceless look which, when looked by the viewer, becomes face but without look. The two openings in the place of the eyes, however, deny any possibility of illusion.

What is it, or rather who is a faceless look? What or who determines its identity? Are we just because we look, or are we seen? The only way we can differentiate these three sculptures is by the color of the bond that binds them to the mask.

In ancient quarries they cut the stone, and numbered it. This also happens in architectural elements, to facilitate their assembly. The fragments of this piece have inscribed on their reverse, Gothic numbers from 1400. They were possibly part of a column.

The quarry then hides an order; just as this warehouse is a quarry... Many civilizations have used the ruins of previous cultures as quarries to build their buildings. The quarry, understood in a broad sense, is a point of departure and destination, power and reference. The mountain of Montserrat, for example, is not suitable as a quarry of buildings, but is instead a fundamental quarry of the national symbolism of Catalonia.