Chema Madoz he continues to find needles in the haystack and bottles with messages in the sea. Although the 63-year-old artist from Madrid has had it more difficult in the last year to find objects in the capital’s Rastro or in the shops that he frequents, creating his images of different readings and in which nothing is what it looks like, or it is. He has achieved, in that shifting terrain in which he likes to move so much, a harvest of 30 new photographs, of different formats, and a sculpture that he presented this Thursday in the Madrid gallery Elvira González. It is a work, carried out in 2019 and 2020, “in which there is a certain coherence within my usual dispersion, a certain relationship between the images,” he said. He refers to the fact that in them “fragility prevails, which reflects the current moment, it is inevitable that what happened will leak, but without the intention of doing work on the covid; what we have experienced is suggested ”, he adds. That feeling that everything around is brittle is found in photos such as the staircase formed by steps that are swings, or in the house of cards supported by a scaffold, “this is the one that has taken me the longest,” he confesses. It also conveys anguish at times, as in the surreal image of a shoe / coffin showing legs.
How have you managed to transmit human fragility without having people in your works? “I work with objects that play with concepts, it’s like working with words,” he says. “There are no humans in my works, but there are hands, ears … that is, there is the human being, although in a fragmentary way.” So it is with the fantastic photo of the hand with a glove that plays an imaginary piano with fingers that are like the keys of the instrument. Or with the ear (not real) surrounded by a crown of thorns (real) that threatens to pierce it. “It represents the constant aggressiveness that we suffer in this society, the noise,” he explains as he watches her.
Although the past year has been especially hard for Madoz, the irony is present in some snapshots, such as the one of the ax wrapped in a bandage or the rear-view mirror with the message “Déjà-vu” in its mirror. “Perhaps humor is more necessary than ever,” adds the National Photography Award in 2000. His always laborious process “has been more complex and has been slowed down” on this occasion by sanitary restrictions. In any case, it still happens to him that when he goes in search of objects for his images, he ends up taking other objects that he does not know if they will serve him.
The exhibition, until June 30, has no title on this occasion, as there never is in the poetic images of Madoz, “out of respect for the viewer’s intelligence, it is not necessary to give more clues,” he says. “I present some photographs from which the viewer can take several readings, to discover something that is hidden or latent.” This playful side can be seen in the image in which a model representing the mountains of Everest serves as the roof of a house that could have been signed by Mies van der Rohe; and in the one of the small plane perched on the snow, or is it an airplane on a sea of clouds?
Always in black and white and analog, Madoz confesses that sometimes he is tempted to show images in color, but it stops him knowing that perhaps the result would not be the same. The color would probably not give you the delicacy you get in images like the wavy mane that simulates a curtain tied by a cord, or the sailboat whose fabric represents a sky of white clouds.
Since he took this path of simple creations with such elegant lighting in the 1990s, Madoz’s work has been seen in numerous galleries and institutions in many countries: from the Canal de Isabel II in Madrid to the Pompidou Center in Paris. His pieces are part of the collections of the Reina Sofía Museum, the Juan March Foundation, the Telefónica Foundation, the Andalusian Center of Photography (Almería), the IVAM of Valencia, the Fotocolectania Collection of Barcelona, the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston. .. And in his third exhibition at the Elvira González gallery he shows his first sculpture as a novelty, although all his images have something of this art, he points out. It is a fireplace with an elegant frame in which we do not see its interior because it is hidden by a red curtain. “It can also be the stage for a micro-drama, with its curtain,” he says. So, despite the pandemic, Madoz luckily has not lost his most playful side. “I like to suggest, to play with the idea of what is present and what is absent.”