Art Critics

Irrespective of the materials or techniques used, the way zZARÁ freely utilises his pervasive creativity transforms his works into pictures and large objects that provide food for thought. Carlos Delgado, art critic and independent curator

2017/2018

zZARÁ: Interpellation versus obedience

 

zZará’s recent production once again examines and re-establishes a sort of dissenting-voice geopolitics. His new work insists on perpetuating a laudable gesture of rebellion. zZará, de facto, rejects the notion of art as a surface. In contrast, he prefers creating works that do not replicate the logic of consensus, but rather act on the dynamics of social discourse. From his standpoint as the other in a country that is not his own (although at this stage it is) and from the very core of the language of art, evolving in his vital space, he seeks to disavow the programmatic design that turns us into automatons for the sake of convenience.

Hence, to a certain degree, the most emphatic dimension of his work reaches a more sociological than political sense. I believe that his work pays more attention to critical thinking about the subject of speech rather than about the circumstances that surround it and strangle its voice. On the few occasions that I have spoken with zZará, I have noticed an insistent need for replication. Replication as an act of interpellation and disobedience regarding this strange social norm, widespread and multiplied, of assuming that what is given is good and natural.

A discursive and replicating impulse can be found in his works. Considered jointly, his works generate a critical atmosphere: a sort of speaking throng clamouring to be listened and attended to. Or at least not ignored by the tyranny of consensus and complicit silence so widespread in the worlds in which we live. In response to an excess of controversy in social circles, a deafening autism ensues based on a lack of action and answers. In response to this reality, zZará’s work prefers to assume the voices (and not the Voice) to break the logic of the soliloquy in favour of answers and rejection. These works, both current and past, speak, shout and multiply on turbulent surfaces that turn images into a compendium of other versions of themselves.

It could be assumed, in a quick and perfunctory approach, that the most visible sign in the artist’s most recent work is the act of speech and the multiplication of the image in a thousand different forms using the technique of distortion. However, the question underlying the obvious is much more complex. All things considered, these playful works and their literal certification of gestures, exude virulent performativity of things social from their very epicentre. The works themselves also become an arena for critical discussion so desired and sought after on so many levels of contemporary culture and politics. That language, that some have declared extinct on many occasions and which others identify as a traditional area of doing unable to restore itself, takes on very particular meaning in the context of zZara’s newest proposal. Here, painting acquires the status of writing, an x-ray of the troubled present. On the surface it appears capable of supporting the rhetorical diversion of insubordination and disobedience.

zZará emphasizes the travesti-like condition of painting emphasizing its dialogical character and the high density of its attributes. zZará takes painting, flat and silent, and makes it radiophonic, projective; he makes it speak. His works scream out in distress, thus supplanting the barren space of propaganda and indulgent advertising.

His work thus becomes a text that announces what has been left unsaid, at least what is not literally stated. It is writing of sorts that seeks to speak but without the tedious task of having to convince or indoctrinate.

Andrés Isaac Santana. Art critic and curator / Art Critic & Curator. ArtNexus, Arte al límite, El Nuevo Herald.

WORKS that SPEAK

 

Art is the only political tool
that should not be controlled
by politicians.
-Rafael Lozano-Hemmer-

 

 

Works that speak… in a nutshell that is the most obvious characteristic of the latest works by the artist zZARÁ. However, the question underlying the obvious is much more complex. All things considered, these playful works and their literal certification of gestures, exude virulent performativity of things social from their very epicentre. The works themselves also become an arena for critical discussion so desired and sought after on so many levels of contemporary culture and politics. That language, that some have declared extinct on many occasions and which others identify as a traditional area of creation unable to restore itself, takes on a very particular meaning in the context of zZARÁ’s newest proposal. Here, painting acquires the status of writing, an x-ray of the troubled present. On the surface it appears capable of supporting the rhetorical diversion of insubordination and disobedience.

            Rarely has a language so widely legitimated by the ideal of the so-called fine arts made a display of a move towards emancipation and escape with regard to its social uses. These works playfully bring us face to face with the epiphany of protest, the stridency of opposition. They orchestrate a chorus, like an assembly in the town square, where many voices pass judgment, express their opinion, defend their view, raise their voices against the powers that be, if only to find the relief that every protest seeks in the very act of opposition and critical reply.

This ability to convene and question has made these works ravenous, turned them into an addictive surface impregnating its firm structure with the seminal impulses of that reality that lives outside it. zZARÁ underscores the transvestite nature of painting, emphasizing its dialogic character and the high density of its attributes. zZARÁ takes painting, flat and silent, and makes it radiophonic, projective; he makes it speak. His works scream out in distress, thus supplanting the barren space of propaganda and accommodating advertising. These works speak of protest and offer a slap to narcissistic interlocutors who try to see their face in the work as the prim and hypocritical extension of their phallus.

The set of new works by the Swiss artist residing in Madrid for more than twenty years now, promotes a polyphonic network with a particular propensity for the idea of open work. A type of work that does not reach its full expression at the hand of the artist but rather organises its many possible meanings in dialogue with others: a conversation that finds its meaning in horizontal spaces. All these works are the result of uneasiness thus making them transmitters of that feeling. We find ourselves before an open wound, the site of torn veins. The cracks and crevices do not represent morphological digressions nor are they visual ruses, more or less convincing. It is the material of these new pieces that is responsible for moulding critical thinking. The cracks and deformations that we observe bear witness to an earlier protest where a group of people marked every surface with their cries and rage.

Fear and emotional instability that the political and economic situation has caused giving rise to a general loss of confidence are tattooed on these works by zZARÁ by way of an indelible mark caused by the times in which we are living. Living beings embedded in the rhetoric of fear and protest. Both signs of existence are legitimated in this new production by the artist.

Rarely does zZARÁ’s work propose alternatives much less solutions, but given the general paralysis of a society in which politics has become the kingdom of eschatology and abjection, this at least provides a forum for complaint and an outlet to express restrained rage. This is precisely where its beauty lies. As long as it transcends the realm of mere representation and reaches many other levels of self-consciousness where the legitimacy of that group of voices is endorsed. In this way everyone is involved in a performative act: an act which certifies the violence of the forceful frontal gesture of people responsible for the attack on the surface.

zZARÁ tries to exceed the hedonistic status of art through the discovery of new places of action. For him, artistic works need to function as a hermeneutical locus of overly dense politics, as a way of expressing dissent rather than acceptance. The artist appears to be saying that art must draw up a new social map. It should wield its legitimate authority to interfere in the web of power relations and try to de-authorise the hegemonic position of certain discourses and voices.

However, there is a big difference between representing politics in art and acting politically through art. They are very different things that should be analysed on their own merit and are very different tools for comprehension.

It is true that all of zZARÁ’s work fluctuates between the order of association and graphic memory. However, performative action retrieves that other front of participation and involvement of social and political beings. It is therefore a proposal that questions and interrogates in the first person. The result is the testimony of a political action to the extent that each subject expresses his or her disillusion with the prevailing system and the regulatory model of coercion and control. This gives it value as a cultural gesture beyond the artefact, leading to think of it as political art and paradoxically making it the representation of abstract language. A type of art that, for a long time, was considered sterile, degenerate and void of all discursive capacity.

Appropriation, use and expansion of abstraction in the form of a language codified by a tradition of knowledge and senses is, therefore, another way to signal the size of the protest once situated in the centre of ambiguity itself and in the contradiction of a language expected to be silent as opposed to the possibility of speech, of evasion of commitment.

That is precisely another of the subtleties of the way zZARÁ operates. We should not forget that this artist is a sociologist with extensive studies in the field of Social Sciences. Something that, in his case at least, heightens the perspective of his vision of and dialogue with art in the first person. His thoughts on painting, politics and culture as a stratified system of knowledge that should always produce new axiological horizons is entirely convincing. One must let time take its course to achieve that rare sense of calm that comes only after years and then take another look at this type of artistic work to confirm or contradict everything that I’ve stated here. I will undoubtedly contradict myself, deny what I’ve said a thousand times. I may not even stand by the arguments I’ve made or I may look for others that satisfy my new need to put this episode down in words. But what I will not deny, at least I don’t think I will, is the value and meaning attained by this tale of works that speak, protest, shout …

Andrés Isaac Santana

Art critic, essayist and curator

WORKS that SPEAK

 

Art is the only political tool
that should not be controlled
by politicians.
-Rafael Lozano-Hemmer-

 

 

Works that speak… in a nutshell that is the most obvious characteristic of the latest works by the artist zZARÁ. However, the question underlying the obvious is much more complex. All things considered, these playful works and their literal certification of gestures, exude virulent performativity of things social from their very epicentre. The works themselves also become an arena for critical discussion so desired and sought after on so many levels of contemporary culture and politics. That language, that some have declared extinct on many occasions and which others identify as a traditional area of creation unable to restore itself, takes on a very particular meaning in the context of zZARÁ’s newest proposal. Here, painting acquires the status of writing, an x-ray of the troubled present. On the surface it appears capable of supporting the rhetorical diversion of insubordination and disobedience.

            Rarely has a language so widely legitimated by the ideal of the so-called fine arts made a display of a move towards emancipation and escape with regard to its social uses. These works playfully bring us face to face with the epiphany of protest, the stridency of opposition. They orchestrate a chorus, like an assembly in the town square, where many voices pass judgment, express their opinion, defend their view, raise their voices against the powers that be, if only to find the relief that every protest seeks in the very act of opposition and critical reply.

This ability to convene and question has made these works ravenous, turned them into an addictive surface impregnating its firm structure with the seminal impulses of that reality that lives outside it. zZARÁ underscores the transvestite nature of painting, emphasizing its dialogic character and the high density of its attributes. zZARÁ takes painting, flat and silent, and makes it radiophonic, projective; he makes it speak. His works scream out in distress, thus supplanting the barren space of propaganda and accommodating advertising. These works speak of protest and offer a slap to narcissistic interlocutors who try to see their face in the work as the prim and hypocritical extension of their phallus.

The set of new works by the Swiss artist residing in Madrid for more than twenty years now, promotes a polyphonic network with a particular propensity for the idea of open work. A type of work that does not reach its full expression at the hand of the artist but rather organises its many possible meanings in dialogue with others: a conversation that finds its meaning in horizontal spaces. All these works are the result of uneasiness thus making them transmitters of that feeling. We find ourselves before an open wound, the site of torn veins. The cracks and crevices do not represent morphological digressions nor are they visual ruses, more or less convincing. It is the material of these new pieces that is responsible for moulding critical thinking. The cracks and deformations that we observe bear witness to an earlier protest where a group of people marked every surface with their cries and rage.

Fear and emotional instability that the political and economic situation has caused giving rise to a general loss of confidence are tattooed on these works by zZARÁ by way of an indelible mark caused by the times in which we are living. Living beings embedded in the rhetoric of fear and protest. Both signs of existence are legitimated in this new production by the artist.

Rarely does zZARÁ’s work propose alternatives much less solutions, but given the general paralysis of a society in which politics has become the kingdom of eschatology and abjection, this at least provides a forum for complaint and an outlet to express restrained rage. This is precisely where its beauty lies. As long as it transcends the realm of mere representation and reaches many other levels of self-consciousness where the legitimacy of that group of voices is endorsed. In this way everyone is involved in a performative act: an act which certifies the violence of the forceful frontal gesture of people responsible for the attack on the surface.

zZARÁ tries to exceed the hedonistic status of art through the discovery of new places of action. For him, artistic works need to function as a hermeneutical locus of overly dense politics, as a way of expressing dissent rather than acceptance. The artist appears to be saying that art must draw up a new social map. It should wield its legitimate authority to interfere in the web of power relations and try to de-authorise the hegemonic position of certain discourses and voices.

However, there is a big difference between representing politics in art and acting politically through art. They are very different things that should be analysed on their own merit and are very different tools for comprehension.

It is true that all of zZARÁ’s work fluctuates between the order of association and graphic memory. However, performative action retrieves that other front of participation and involvement of social and political beings. It is therefore a proposal that questions and interrogates in the first person. The result is the testimony of a political action to the extent that each subject expresses his or her disillusion with the prevailing system and the regulatory model of coercion and control. This gives it value as a cultural gesture beyond the artefact, leading to think of it as political art and paradoxically making it the representation of abstract language. A type of art that, for a long time, was considered sterile, degenerate and void of all discursive capacity.

Appropriation, use and expansion of abstraction in the form of a language codified by a tradition of knowledge and senses is, therefore, another way to signal the size of the protest once situated in the centre of ambiguity itself and in the contradiction of a language expected to be silent as opposed to the possibility of speech, of evasion of commitment.

That is precisely another of the subtleties of the way zZARÁ operates. We should not forget that this artist is a sociologist with extensive studies in the field of Social Sciences. Something that, in his case at least, heightens the perspective of his vision of and dialogue with art in the first person. His thoughts on painting, politics and culture as a stratified system of knowledge that should always produce new axiological horizons is entirely convincing. One must let time take its course to achieve that rare sense of calm that comes only after years and then take another look at this type of artistic work to confirm or contradict everything that I’ve stated here. I will undoubtedly contradict myself, deny what I’ve said a thousand times. I may not even stand by the arguments I’ve made or I may look for others that satisfy my new need to put this episode down in words. But what I will not deny, at least I don’t think I will, is the value and meaning attained by this tale of works that speak, protest, shout …

Andrés Isaac Santana

Art critic, essayist and curator

zZARÁ CYBERSPACE vs. SOCIAL QUAKE

ZZARÁ’s work reflects on the human being and ways of relating to the environment. After several formal trials, it was after 2007 that he consolidated a line of research where the material assumes the register of his reflections on communication. The end result were works through which the artist established links between archaic and digital signs. In parallel, he also seeks the limits of pictorial support allowing him to go beyond bidimensionality using strategies from the heroic avant-garde such as collage and assemblage.

His interest in assembling an image from disconnected everyday items that he has rediscovered and reinvented is a way to structure an understanding of reality from chaos. In a certain sense, zZARÁ’s experimentation with materials builds a memory that recovers bits of forgotten events and testimonies buried by the passage of time which now, through his poetic reshaping, embrace new meaning.

During 2007 and 2008, the artist’s work especially revolved around the identity of the archaic sign in ancient cultures (Minoan, Phoenician, Hebrew …) as part of a reflection on the failure of language as an all-encompassing metaphor. The idea of the sign as a record of absences and loss is also present in his subsequent work from 2009 and 2010, although now the iconographic core is the language of text messages —synthetic, accurate and with no regard for spelling— that in turn has become the language of the social networks on the Internet. For this artist, new information technology and communication are an extension and amplification of the subject and develop the so-called technological environment defined by McLuhan: if indeed “the medium is the message”, technology is what is currently bringing about a major change in the social realm.

From wound to construction. zZARÁ’s most recent work

The next chapter in the production of zZARÁ pushes communication into the background to emphasize the current social and economic situation. Once again material is the vehicle used to modulate critical thinking and reconcile it with its environment. Thus, breakage, cracks and deformations convey a meaning that goes beyond a formula seeking purely formal expression. Its iconography refers back to the idea of the wound, and in a more contextual sense, to the shock waves caused by the current economic situation that have been accompanied by the progressive emergence of poverty in the public arena and the fear of being part of what, at other times, was the marginal periphery. As the curator Teixeira Coelho pointed out, “the culture in which we live today is, by and large, the culture of fear and a culture of fear is a violent culture”. Through his work and without distancing himself from his audience, the artist not only reflects but also offers alternatives to this situation.

His Break up and Perforations series incorporate breakage that appears to erupt from the depths of the medium, desperately seeking to rearrange itself. From a formal point of view, these works reflect different experiences: light, shadow, shouting, even a temporary experience, as part of a painstaking expansion process. Also, what in previous work became a legible sign, now becomes a record with no reference to language but rather to a voice emanating from an aggressive gesture and forceful action.

It is through this reflection that zZARÁ’s current work also proposes a counter-image: the desire to change the present and the search for new sites of action are the tools that can build a better future. His Bumps and Bulges series resorts to dents, bumps and bulges to allude to a surface in transformation that appears to be slowly changing a new social map. Again, the artist cancels the bidimensional nature of the medium to build a multidimensional and transitive space endowed with a sculptural aspect. In this series the artist changes his strategy: the solution does not come from destruction, a scream or a tear, but rather from the conscious modulation of the medium, a metaphor alluding to the need to generate a new terrain for social territory.

This latter aspect is emphatically emphasized in the “Multiposs” series where the artist assembles several independent metal supports to generate an irregular continuity. Thus, zZARA dismantles the minimalist neutrality of geometric form and creates works that link to the poetry of children’s play and with the objects of Dadá. These hybrid works, halfway between painting, sculpture and architectural models, reach out to an active spectator able to enter into dialogue with it and break with the fetishism of artwork and bend it to his own will.

In this regard, and within the social discourse that we have been developing, in this new series, zZARÁ addresses the possibility of building a new paradigm for man based on thoughtful decision making. His “Multiposs” create open areas in different directions and are never determined by axial symmetry. In this sense, they seem to allude to contemporary speciality, opening, physically and virtually, in all directions in a discontinuous, anti-hierarchical and eccentric way. It would appear that the latest works of zZARÁ try to get us to assume this complexity and begin to think about how to become involved in it in a productive way. These works do not seek to propose solutions but rather to pose questions about what kind of world we want and how we want to build, manage and inhabit it.

Carlos Delgado, Historian and art critic

From wound to construction. zZARÁ’s most recent work

Once again in zZARA’s work material is the vehicle used to modulate critical thinking and reconcile it with its environment. Thus, breakage, cracks and deformations convey a meaning that goes beyond a formula that seeks expression. Its iconography refers back to the idea of the wound, and in a more contextual sense, to the shock waves caused by the current economic situation that have been accompanied by the progressive emergence of poverty in the public arena and the fear of being part of what, at other times, was the marginal periphery. As the curator Teixeira Coelho pointed out, “the culture in which we live today is, by and large, the culture of fear and a culture of fear is a violent culture”. His Break up and Perforations series incorporate breakage that appears to erupt from the depths of the medium, desperately seeking to rearrange itself. From a formal point of view, these works reflect different experiences: light, shadow, shouting, even a temporary experience, as part of a painstaking expansion process.

It is through this reflection that zZARÁ’s current work also proposes a counter-image: the desire to change the present and the search for new sites of action are the tools that can build a better future. His Bumps and Bulges series resort to dents, bumps and bulges to allude to a surface in transformation that appears to be slowly changing a new social map. Again, the artist cancels the bidimensional nature of the medium to build a multidimensional and transitive space endowed with a sculptural aspect.

This latter aspect is emphatically emphasized in the “Multiposs” series where the artist assembles several independent metal supports to generate an irregular continuity. Thus, zZARA dismantles the minimalist neutrality of geometric form and creates works that link to the poetry of children’s play and with the objects of Dadá led by Hans Arp. These hybrid works, halfway between painting, sculpture and architectural models, reach out to an active spectator able to enter into dialogue with it and break with the fetishism of artwork and bend it to his own will. In this regard, and within the social discourse that we have been developing, zZARÁ addresses a new paradigm for man based on thoughtful decision making.

Carlos Delgado, Historian and art critic

ARCHAIC SIGNS, MOBILE TELEPHONES AND SMS (TEXT MESSAGING)

The Swiss artist zZARÁ, who resides in Spain, will present a selection of his work from the last two years at the FIArt Gallery (INTERNATIONAL ART FUND FOUNDATION) located at Calle Almirante 1.

zZARÁ’s work emerges from the dialogue between different materials and iconographic figures. Since the year 2007, his work has been characterised by the progressive importance of the materialism of graphic signs from ancient cultures. Stemming from this thematic nucleus, the artist encourages the spectator to re-think the different symbolic layers of signs down through the ages and to reflect on how language has failed as an all-encompassing metaphor.

In his most recent work as from 2009, zZARÁ continues his investigation of the different means of communication. However, in contrast with the recurring presence of archaic signs, the artist now focuses his attention on SMS (text) messaging and the new type of language (cryptic, with spelling mistakes, no punctuation, simple vocabulary, etc.) which characterises today’s communication among young people. The artist thus addresses an unexpected play on parallelisms between two points in history and adopts them as plastic tools for his artistic and sociological project.

Carlos Delgado, art critic and independent curator

zZARÁ. Archaic symbols, future voices

One of the many ideas which characterised the artistic panorama of the 20th century was the recurring tendency to question the long tradition of painting as the quintessential medium for plastic representation and exploration. The decision by Braque and Picasso at the beginning of the century to incorporate everyday materials in their paintings was a unique expression of their struggle to take the content of painting beyond the canvas. In this same context of experimentation, Marcel Duchamp shifted a large proportion of his interests from the object to the idea paving the way for new methods in a world of redefined artistic creation while simultaneously implementing a new conceptual model of thought linked to the artistic phenomenon which gained momentum up through the decade of the 1960’s.

However, in the genesis of modern times artists dedicated to the process of vanguard renewal not only looked ahead in search of a future where the limits of canonical media were rearranged in a wide-ranging, labile and flexible field. For those first vanguard artists it was equally vital to look to the past, towards that other history which to date had been overlooked and removed from future canonical milestones of beauty and progress. When Picasso visited the Trocadero Ethnographic Museum or members of the Die Brücke group that of Dresden, they came into contact with forms of artistic production from Africa and Oceania and their sensitivity to this experience would give rise to a plastic model sparked by a different energy.

The plastic work of zZARÁ fits the mould of this modernist tradition which moves within the limits of the media, the constant invention of new visual tensions and accent on concept. Moreover, his recent work has been modulated by the progressively increasing importance of archaic otherness; but while the artists at the turn of last century were immersed in the currents of a so-called “primitive”, non-western aesthetic, that of expressive and anti-natural characteristics portrayed by African and Oceanic statuary, zZARÁ now focuses his attention on the tangible aspect of the graphic symbols of ancestral cultures (Minoic, Phoenician, Hebrew …). By way of this carefully mediated option, the artist invites us to re-think the different semantic layers which symbols are able to conjure up in the plastic arts and to reflect on the failure of language as a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Identity of symbols

Paul de Man held that “the semantics of interpretation lacks epistemological consistence and therefore cannot be scientific”; from this perspective, reading would be an unverifiable act of understanding, interpretation becoming diluted when the symbol can no longer be repeated or recognised once it is written.

zZARÁ’s opting for the incorporation of archaic graphic symbols accentuates the break with the singular meaning for which they were created. By incorporating these symbols into a different context – plastic media – and by over-sizing them and altering their position, zZARÁ is proposing new guidelines for their use and interpretation. Hence, these graphic symbols in the work of our artist are never to be taken at face value but rather as a game of absence for the purpose of addressing language itself, time and memory. The past transported to the present or the remains of a faded palimpsest whose importance lies not in the written word it once bore but in all that it is capable of evoking.

Three avenues of action

In the plastic manifestation of the idea we have been describing, zZARÁ has divided his “Archaic symbols” series into three intimately interlinked sub-groups. In all three, the plurality of the language of the past serves as a metaphor representing contemporary diversity; past heterogeneity revealing itself as the origin of a time present where different words and sounds co-exist in the same globalised space.

The first family of the three comprising the series presents us with a surprise: the metallic support is flanked by table legs at the four rear corners, a montage which gives the painting a strong sense of object transcending the bi-dimensionality of the plastic work. zZARÁ’s production over the course of the last several years has been reinforcing this visual montage idea now culminating in these “wall tables” brought to life by symbols inscribed on their surface. This option, to a large extent related to the objects of Dadá and especially to surrealistic creation, is used by the artist to draw attention to the myriad of voices and discourses joined around this table – a space of dialogue and co-existence. By hanging this on a wall, however, i.e. putting this structure in a place where it cannot be used by subjects engaged in dialogue, the work exists as a remembrance of a time when language flowed over its surface.

These symbols, as we have already pointed out, evoke open, flexible, dynamic and vibrant meanings. His awareness of this fact is what brings the artist to formally concretise this phenomenon in the second family of the series. Here we refer to those creations where metal and canvas are deformed generating depressions and protrusions which once again call into question the dual dimension of the pictorial media introducing a space of great expressiveness now multiplied by a play of light and shadow on the media.

The solidness of the lines projected within the space of this set regains a new sense of flatness in the last sub-group of the three comprising the “Archaic symbols” series. Tension between the extreme gestures of the media and the accent created by objects is now played out on hanging panels where canvas, wood and metal interact in a rigorous and sensitive dialogue set out in flat painting. zZARÁ’s idea of object and symbol is taken to a different set of consequences, more purified and nude if you like, with a certain classical and solemn tone.

zZARÁ’s recent work shows us how the artist uses new forms to express the same characteristic pictorial temperament. By assembling materials and cutting out symbols he assigns a telluric and ideological character to colour and generates a composition of great poetic intensity. Having regard to his previous work, the crevice has disappeared as a conceptual element and is replaced by the object as a constructive strategy. The symbols broaden its radius of action becoming the fundamental highlight of a work where archaic elements give life to the subdued voice of the artist looking to the future.

zZARÁ’s most recent production is organised under plastic coordinates which take on a vibrant plasticity (vivid colours such as reds and oranges, glimmering metals and the sizeable bends of the support media) which co-exist under noteworthy technical refinement generating movements of light, suggestive visual rhythms, masses of material and lines of varying density. It is at this crossroads of temperatures that the plastic intensity of the “Archaic symbols” series is born, surprising work in terms of everything it reveals and also everything it suggests and conceals as treasure yet to be discovered.

CARLOS DELGADO Independient curator and art critic

zZARÁ   An open challenge to matter

Daring in his use of formal materials and leaving conventions aside, zZARÁ has embarked upon a personal path of plastic creation revealing itself in recurrent themes found in his work from the end of the 60’s to his most recent creations. However, in tandem with this constant repetition of previous search, the artist has constantly sought to explore new visual possibilities.

Indeed, the emergence of one plastic option in zZARÁ’s work can engender the birth of a different antithetic one thus complicating the play on relationships even within the same series. In other words, the artist’s creative process over the last several decades is too complex to summarise under one single stylistic label, especially considering his diverse fields of interest (so distant and yet so interrelated such as archaeology, natural science and sociology) which act as cross-cutting axes in a scheme which eludes definition based on a single formal guideline.

In search of the poetics of the objet trouvé

The discovery of the collage and assembly by historic vanguard movements meant a break with the illusionism while at the same time affirming a powerful constructive (and also destructive) modality for new art. Refuse, miscellaneous objects and the left-overs from events catch the artist’s attention and range from the representation of the objects to the objects themselves. zZARÁ’s plastic works delve deeper into this tradition but without committing to a previously established path. Our artist recovers the freedom to act offered by these technical procedures while introducing new social, cultural and historic ideas intimately linked to his persona and his historic period.

Hence, the artist is able to uphold the inherent interpretation of an object (an article of clothing, for example, evoking human presence) or subject it to a process whereby it is freed of its original function awakening latent meaning. In both cases, zZARÁ turns to the object found with clearly associative intentions and as a way to merge ideas and thought through shocking visual metaphors.

While accepting the limits of the trade’s traditional tools – panel and canvas, but not exclusively – and at the same time freeing himself of these same limits, zZARÁ moves through those territories on the verge of the strictly pictorial to construct images encompassing several lines of action at the same time. In fact, zZARÁ prefers to refer to himself as a “visual artist” rather than a painter because he is aware that his work moves within the milieu of approximations which abandon the flat nature of painting in search of an open, multi-dimensional space reminiscent of sculpture. This latter characteristic is determined not only by the incorporation of objects but also by the use of dense and exuberant materiality.

Matter, crevice and symbol

Soils, varnish, marble dust, wax, pigment, enamel … all form part of the secret alchemy brewed by zZARÁ to engender a skin which activates the corporal presence of the picture. This is undoubtedly a formal strategy making it necessary to touch the work in order to capture the myriad of subtleties it harbours, all of whose dimensions cannot be perceived from a simple glance or even a very close look. The fact is that none of zZARÁ’s works can be consumed with a brief look. They all require the active presence of an observer able to elucidate the many angles of his expressive capacity by making physical contact.

Moreover, endowed with a striking depth and emotion, zZARÁ’s visual creations act as a magnet of sorts requiring an intellectual approximation able to make sense of the virtual meaning pulsating in the material itself. Critical references and social issues then come into focus, occasionally driven by the evocative titles. However, over and above the possibility of a single meaning, what is truly suggestive is the artist’s ability to express the thoughts of his most intimate ego with fragmented syntaxes.

And, in the middle of this confrontation between a heterogeneous container and content which is never restrictive, crevice and symbol emerge in respect of the physicality of the matter. The crevice, like a groove left behind by a slow weathering process, incorporates the iconography of time into zZARÁ’s visual work while the symbol reveals the recovery of missing communication systems.

As the incarnation of poetic thought, both resources put the accent on the variety of expressive facets employed by the artist while at the same time serving as milestones in the itinerary of our scrutiny.

Form and colour

The complex intellectual reflection, the symbolic unions and the material exaltation that have been described, indicate that this artist’s work is anything but distilled and cold. Even when approaching a minimal aesthetic or its frequent reticular structures, zZARÁ’s visual work uses a number of very different resources to overcome geometric austerity and rigidness. Indeed, the flexibility of its interconnected lines suggests a living organism and, more specifically, the constant pulsations of veins and arteries.

But we have yet to focus the attention of our analysis on a very important formal aspect in discerning the expressiveness of the creator: colour. Colour is the link between the abstract shapes and the glued-on objects but also acquires a meaning of its own, an autonomous rhythm which is revealed under the telluric resonance of browns and ochres, the exuberant liveliness of the red and the dramatic presence portrayed by black. These tonal contrasts, so intimately linked to the Spanish tradition and that the Swiss artist has intuitively taken as his own and carefully studied, enrich one another, giving rise to a wide array of combinations. zZARÁ’s art is a constant revelation of interminable possibility.

Carlos Delgado,  Historian and art critic

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