To be confronted for the first time with an artist’s work means being given access to a world that shies from the conventional aspect of one’s gaze. Especially when one is talking about Ignasi Aballí’s work: his world – that is to say the one he observes, the one that he lets act, exist, be present – will surprise us more than once. Because he looks to where the vision is put in doubt, where what is audible can hardly be heard, where what is fortuitous is not only mere coincidence, where the artist is nothing more than a go-between. In short, where the artwork is the support of what is absent, that has to be looked for elsewhere. Maybe in the limits of perception.
So much that it is not unnecessary to inform oneself on an artist’s work when we see it for the first time. In Aballí’s case, as well as grasping some of the reflections that surround his work, it can help us scrutinise with more or less luck but also help us notice what we cannot see. This approach can also allow us to understand that it is this that founds an artwork that, before appearing, was built with the profusion and excess of images and artworks that saturate a culture to which the artist keeps confronting himself, through a very critical, respectful, assertive and sincere attitude.
We can therefore choose to develop with more or less depth some of the themes around which an artwork is being built, or develop its singularity starting from what Ignasi Aballí proposes in this exhibition. That is to say, by confronting the spectator with a sort of mini retrospective entitled “almost visible”, it is enough to put us on the trail of what interests him, not necessarily for what we cannot see but for what is present. That is to say what we notice when someone shows us.
Ignasi Aballí started working with painting based on the representation of reality and the use of the chassis, the canvas, colours, paintbrushes, etc. – that is to say, in its most traditional sense. His career changed drastically when he realised, when painting, that he was less and less interested in what was being produced from one canvas to another.
As a consequence of this disinterest, at the same time as the necessity of abandoning traditional processes was felt by the artist, he ventured into the search of other ways of dialoguing with painting, with art in general, and in this artwork that he believed he had to do by accepting an ethical compromise with contemporaneity and a reflexive conception of the work process. In this endless search, as well as progressively stopping work on the representation of reality, he started introducing into his production elements in which the idea, the concept – rather than maintaining his work in two-dimensional limits, allowed him to widen his horizon in the pictorial field. By leaving the image suspended, by arousing the desire to see, showing less each time. All in all, he proposed artworks that, without being painting, are linked to it, take it as a reference or are directly associated with it without it being present at any time. Each time less.
Starting from the 1990’s, free from the two-dimensional yoke, Aballí’s artwork interest focused on the complexity of reality – and daily life – inviting us to think based on the variety of nuances that it is made up of. One could therefore consider his work as a very specific vision of questions on chance, routine, error, distance, time, absence, disappearance, invisibility, silence, emptiness, etc. His initial questions tell us about things that happen to everyone and that, maybe without us realising, we do every day. Like moving around, occupying space, interacting with others, or cutting things out, sorting, putting things in order, using a clothes dryer or simply paying attention to our surroundings, as imperceptible as it may seem. It is nothing more than what we do, while continuing to live.
The artworks that make up this exhibition, entitled “almost visible” by the artist, as an evocative suggestion, articulate some of the questions that Ignasi Aballí has been working on these last years. They are a clear example of the evolution of a work that has never ceased to pay attention to the reality that surrounds the artist, to the world in which we live and the way in which we decide to interfere with everything that appears to us.
A closeness exists between Aballí and Perec, based on the attention to what Perec calls the infra-ordinary – or a background murmur of daily life, as Aballí says: the play-on-words, the methodological rigour that they both apply to the elaboration of their work, or the specific way of observing the world that, with Perec, allows reality and fiction to converge. Aballí applies this between what exists and what is barely perceptible.
The common thread of this selection of Aballí’s artworks is a regular journey on the paths of his obsession for the conception of artworks that invite us to use them as vectors to analyse reality, allowing us to understand that, when we call upon the spectator when faced with an artwork or an exhibition, it is sometimes as real as life itself in the case of Aballí’s artworks.
In this journey on the roads of an investigation where humour is not incompatible with reflection and where strategies of removal of the artist are combined with his will to refer himself to the world in which we live, we find samples of his obsession for coloured letters with the artwork Transparent Wall or The Black in the Newspaper, The Grey in the Newspaper and The White in the Newspaper, but also in the artworks for which his intervention consists in letting them be with the help of time (Table of proof), proposals linked to the relationship of his artwork with the story (Artwork in four acts and Attempt for exhaustion). We also find samples of his sorting activity in his attempt to organise in an objective and distant manner part of reality (Slide), examples of the attention that he lends to the mark of time (Image – text) of his passion for play-on-words and the unfathomable world of confusion that becomes translucent next to a diptych where one can read transparent/invisible.
The artworks that make up this exhibition reveal these questions. It doesn’t mean however that they are limited to the leads that we have supplied.
Beyond what we have already said, the heart that beats behind these artworks is the essence of a search whose limits are as subtle as those that exist between what we can see and the invisible.
I would say that the artworks exist only where everything is almost visible. Or in this place where we could start looking.
Frederic Montornés, January 2015