Another spot you have to stop off at on your adventures south in San Antonio, Texas is Blue Star Art Lab. This simple, storefront gallery in the heart of the quaint downtown area faces a cozy little hat shop. As you enter the gallery you’ll be surprised by its wide, spacious interior, and the art on the walls might make you pause and wonder, Where am I?
As if transported to some alternate universe of avant grandeur, Spanish Young Art: The New Generation, stopping off in San An from its New World Museum, Houston, TX debut, fits in well with the Lone Star State’s, “everything’s bigger in Texas” motto.
The scope and vision of the exhibit is astounding. Though flipping through the accompanying literature, I was a little taken back by the gross typos due to blaring translation errors (that well, I honestly shouldn’t complain about because my editors constantly chastise me for all the typos in my own pieces). That being said, the Spanish Young Art booklet presents a curious speculation at what exactly “young” means. Perhaps lost in translation is some antiquarian, Old World notion of what youth represents, but I noticed that all the artists in this stellar show were all born in the ‘70s, save 1980’s baby Pablo Pérez Sanmartín, of Pontevedra. His Democracy Rules series, as fresh and innovative, as critical of ultra-consumerism and capitalism as should be expected, blinds you as you enter the gallery. The pristine and ironic, commercial tone of his work, its glossy, smiling, and blood or ketchup stained packaging and presentation astound.
Next to this delectable display of defiance, stands Cristina Luca’s marvelous montage of video, and 18th century Enlightenment critique. La Liberté Raisonnée [2009 DVD HD, 4’20’] is a slow motion rendition of feminist fury, proud and unrelentingly violent in its allegorical criticism of patriarch and patriotism, unified. As we watch “The Liberty,” a bare-chested woman, “guiding the people,” i.e. men, (a parody of Eugéne Delacroix seminal work, the barbarous troops turn on their matriarch, bludgeoning her with their bayonets).
Gratuitous violence and ‘iconographic cannibalism’ might be what you’d call the glibly gruesome video installation of Carles Congost, who steals the show with his humorous and self-referential, digital delight. His short dark comedy, B-movie satire/homage, La Mala Pintura [2008 DVD 10’] had me cracking up with its Myspace montage and sarcastic critique of the self-important artist and her/his hilarious existential professional/ personal dilemmas. A stanch defiance and simultaneous acknowledgement of mass media manipulations and the modern artists’ daunting position between discourse and digital deluge, this Girona-born art assimilates and asserts, through the creation of a comic, pop-art parallel universe where bad-art, is really really bad.
Óscar Carrasco’s Untitled (Carabanchel 3 and Carabancel 24) both [2007 Printed on dibond 78.7 in x 57.1 in] are a marvel of modern landscape photography, where the decay of an immortalized Spanish prison becomes a graffiti-glorified battle ground between Franco-fascism, European Romanticism and a youth movement of constant expression.
This, though not very young but quite youthfully expressed, generation of Spanish artists have proved that art and its execution stand void of idol nation-state patronage or permanence. This work could have come from any artists, from any place in the world, but their singularly political and persistent reflexivity, refreshingly refined and focused, ring singularly of a progressive, socialist-democratic Spain.