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Magazine

02 October 2013
Graham Gussin en el CGAC
They say that nostalgia is a sadness that alleviates. Graham Gussin at the CGAC

Ángel Calvo Ulloa


On the few occasions that Graham Gussin (London, 1960) has exhibited on the peninsula, David G. Torres and Miguel von Haffe have had something to do with it. His first incursion arose in 2004, with an exhibition in the Centre d’Arts Santa Mònica and his participation in the 28 Biennale of Pontevedra.

Now he’s snuck into the party of the twentieth anniversary of the CGAC with CLEARBLUESKYDEEPDARKWATER, Gussin’s first anthological show in Spain that occupies the first floor and the double centre space, sitting alongside the solo shows of Ricardo Basbaum and Victor Grippo. Not bad for a centre that protests, like the rest, about the devastating effects of the crisis. Though perhaps an excessively cryptic offering for a public that in many cases is uninitiated in the labyrinthine world of contemporary art.

Let’s take it bit by bit, the information to which one has access when presented with the task of writing about this artist is no great shakes, neither is the text that the CGAC has prepared for the information sheets and not even a rapid internet search retrieves us from the dead end that the show itself drives us into. However, one just has to think about some cases that a priori have left a similar sensation but which having gone a little bit deeper have revealed themselves to be some of the most interesting of their time. Heimo Zobernig at the Palacio de Cristal or Hans-Peter Feldmann at the MNCARS, two exhibitions that despite leaving us with this face of -try to give the impression that you understand it and dissimulate the poker face that you are really being left with-, have moved us in a way that this circus rarely does.

With Graham Gussin you run the risk of seeming like an idiot, but little by little the works distributed through the rooms, seemingly without any connection, begin to sketch on your face a smile of complicity with the artist. They are gestures that seem to generate a hotchpotch where anything goes, but where everything is actually perfectly measured.

We enter by passing through a plastic curtain, as if we were entering into an astral experience, as if crossing the threshold of a slaughterhouse. Now, three large polyhedrons, reminiscent of the ones Albert Dürer included in his engraving Melancholy I invade the space, breaking up into fragments and offering a vision of their interior. Like modules in transformation that make it possible to access the enigma supposed by the contribution of Durer, whose shadow hovers over the whole exhibition. However, to the sobriety that this reflection could require, Gussin has added a large background of wallpaper, a series of vinyl record covers of science fiction soundtracks, that turn like Duchamp’s rotoreliefs or languid graffiti that demands to be observed from a specific point of the room in order to be able to decipher what they hide. The message is specific like the place from where it is revealed. We don’t understand anything. We understand simply how aseptic the space is, this idea of depersonalised decoration that we already found in Shift, in 2004, his intervention in the Biennale of Pontevedra.

The constant allusions to art history are produced from such a distant field that the spectator feels like an aqualung comes between the emitter and the receiver. Enrique Vila-Matas presents in Amé a Bo an exploration of the abyss, the journey to nowhere of a special tenant who observes from his BAW775 ship a firmament, of which he is a mere spectator. If nothing else it gives pause for thought.

The first room leads to a triple projection with videos that group together the works by Gussin from between 2005 and 2013. Silver Form lends continuity to this hypnotic character that inundates the exhibition, with gestures that walk the fine line that separates the transcendental from the anecdotic.

Dark corner, a corner in the room painted black talks once again of Duchamp, or of Isaac Asimov. A fugue of the exhibition space or a mount of Venus that concentrates the strength of a third space that appears disjointed, until little by little we unravel each one of his pieces. News From Nowhere is the installation that occupies and distributes the centre of the room, a caramel for the spectator avid for souvenirs that diminish the strength of other pieces of a lesser scale. Nevertheless, these begin to appear, one after the other, as little winks that seduce us and lead us to peer into the double space in which we discover 199 black glass marbles scattered across the floor, moving with total freedom through the space, depositing themselves in any place and for an indeterminate period of time, one for each character and each space in the title.

Vila-Matas also says that nostalgia is the sadness that alleviates.

Ángel Calvo Ulloa was born in a very small place full of vile characters. In the faculty where he studied nobody ever talked to him about criticism or curating, so now he dedicates his time to reading, writing and every now and again doing the odd exhibition. He loves travelling and feeling very small in a large city. He also loves going back home and once again hating this tiny place.

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