Water passages


Martí Peran

Behind each of the accomplishments of JMCalleja – whether by means of poetry, visual poetry, mail art works, actions or installations – there is a same sign, invaPassatgesaiguariable, especially combining, that only It has been lit up very recently. This constant is an
excess of lyricism that is causing immense discomfort. There is always drastic ingenuity in the approaches that make the author a malicious explorer of the limited and innocent resources of early verses. In the midst of our scenario set by unbearable inconsistencies, he con
tinues to celebrate the primary components of life through each of the most basic metaphors. Of course, there are also all sorts of rhetorical events, but they never move the immediate and brief reason that causes each intervention. It does not work in the cracks of the phenomena to discover the ignotus but it needs them. Realities such as Time, Travel or the Site are fully displayed in daytime hours. The constant that manifests itself throughout all his works is, in short, an enthusiastic essentialism

The reason why we insist on the disconcerting nature of this brand is very clear: because we have gradually instructed the practice of a silent, unread reading, aware of the modern condemnation that forces art to develop in silence Faced with this habit, it has come up with great difficulty, the proposals, which are not limited to insinuating a meaning, but frankly claiming argument elements, can not but overwhelm. In spite of everything – and this does nothing but redouble the initial disconcert -, these same works, despite the indiscipline of not taking on the silence that prescribes modernity, simultaneously suffer a kind of modern syndrome that forces them to camouflage their stubbornness when speaking Underneath the mask of useless formalisms, of elements that are not essential for any specific speech (rhetorical events we had mentioned before). In this sense we can mention, as privileged examples, two elements of intermittent appearance: the juggling misrepresentation of language and the use of conventional windows as support for the work.

With respect to the first resource, examples such as Fish Bank (1) or Killing, oh! (2) illustrate what we want to say. Indeed, if it may appear that these titles respond to the desire to discover hidden perspectives in the apparent innocence of language, ultimately they are revealed as simple instruments of radical and untimely irony, arranged to create a Immediate complicity with the spectator that makes him believe an insightful hermeneut. In turn, the use of the windows (in Sideboards: Proposal 19, Bank of fish, the different Homages, and also in Flight of dawn break insofar as this work is only accessible to the viewer as a showcase) It is even more emblematic. The showcase is, par excellence, the place for pure sampling; everything that is installed is delivered to the eyes of pedestrians (viewers) thanks to an exclusive physical persuasion. The use of this special support becomes a kind of gloss that goes through the strictly formal exercise.

These strategies are those that could make us suspect that we are dealing with some hieroglyphics, exquisitely elaborated, but that do not hide any kind of saying. The ironic use of language and the use of the showcase as a support offer the free, modern, component to the intervention. But in fact – and that is the paradox we denounced at the beginning – it ends up imposing a clear desire for rhapsody; a clear proclamation of elemental reasons (and this is original, first), for which a whole series of mechanisms, usually symbolic, are now used, now arbitrary. These other ways are, in short, the means by which the intuitions that each work promotes are affirmed; the poetic with which each verse is written. And some of its principles can be distinguished:

1. Write with things. A constant feature of the poetics of these facilities is the use of natural elements, even organic many times. Salt, blood, pepper, water, and sand appear as nouns that alternate in a constant combination with others that are never simply compositional elements. Everything that accompanies the central elements (dice, dice, balance …) is shown as an object of memory and / or as a symbol of devices articulated for life. Thus, if the first, because of their natural condition, celebrate the very origin of life (hence often they are disposed in a dark chamber or any other germinal matrix), the other, artificial ones, grant the action.

2. Reproduce an order. The facilities are always composed of a rigorous imposition of order until it causes a regulated form: 48 wheels, 365 glasses … It seems that a peculiar Pythagoreanism is practiced in order to celebrate the apotheosis of the limits. However, it is not a mere formalism. The mathematical regulation appeals, with total clarity, to the constitution of Time, vertebrate at the rate of hours and days. Thus, the order of the world in which things are written is meticulously reproduced.

In the light of this same principle, it is also necessary to read the presence of a musical component in many of the installations, since it is precisely for this meeting, in fact, so natural, between the order and the time that is summoned : music becomes as long as time is organized rhythmically. Thus, music appears in those installations that do not contain, visually, the element of order (Would you like to know the curves of abyssals?), Or when it is necessary to insist on the regular rate already announced by the form (Mar-Cel, the voice of the gods).

3. Make a place. It is clear that any installation is characterized by a peculiar way of occupying a specific space; This is almost a condition of the genre. Now we want to point out another idea as a result of the features collected before and taking advantage of one of the recurring practices of the installations that we now read: deposit meticulously things on the ground. When occupying the space through the ordered arrangement (and there is also a formal order to represent the chance) of a series of emblematic elements as depositors of a vital value, then, this space becomes a place. The facilities make a place as they accurately delimit a space and write it with things loaded with life. For this privileged combination, creating a place means creating a complete world, defining a unique and unique point of view from which perspective is taken in the contemplation of the outside world. It is framing a vision; It is to articulate a modus of knowledge. This is the culminating principle of this poetry.

The ways summarized in these three principles are, in short, what allows to develop that uncomfortable lyricism, due to its antimodernity, which we announced at the beginning. Indeed, it seems clear, after checking the eminently romantic tone of the three constituents of these works, that the aesthetic proposals presented to us, insofar as they behave as cognitive instruments (refer to the need to outline a comprehensive look of the world through the recapture of their origin) are far from the celebrated useless character of modern art. However, this distance is only apparent. We had already anticipated that the turmoil that this romance brings about has been relaxed with the latest works. The path to check it is sinuous but very stable.

First of all, it must be kept in mind that, as a consequence of that uselessness of modern art, it is ensured that works, dispossessed of any outside world, can only be self-referenced, recreated in constant contemplation. The most ambitious, the works and not the decorative exercises, in any case, can only venture into a definition of art itself, they can only practice tautology. This is the only concession to the silent pact, the commitment not to affirm nothing beyond the limits themselves. Well, this is precisely what is happening in the last work that is now occupied, especially The voice of the gods and Return to the gods; Here we also find an exclusive concentration in this same company. These latest facilities are also limited to rehearsing a definition of art, only that they offer us an idea that seemed totally banished: art is the place of poetic reason; art is the place in which a speech is developed that is not reduced to rumuring the ideas but realizes them, it formalizes them. The art behaves effectively as a language, but it does not work with lost words but, beyond the imperative of logic, build realities (places we have said before) with the words (now things).

The difference between the previous works and these last accomplishments is that, while the first ones wanted to behave from that poetic reason – that is to say, they exercised their constituent capacity with perplexing innocence – the last ones concentrate all their effort to say, precisely, that art eats these remote faculties; and they say it commemorating its mythological function (The voice of the gods) and dreaming to return to its first expression (Return to the gods). Thus, the circle is closed. The last works are finished and reasonable because they remain in the purely enunciative role that corresponds to them, but simultaneously, by the type of statement they proclaim, they can assist, assist in all the previous works.

Finally, there is still one last element that seems fundamental to ratify our reading: the search, discontinuous but latent, of a certain tradition that bases this work. A tradition that, very significantly, refers to poetry (we remember the explicit tributes to Bartra and Martí Pol, but also the verse of Vinyoli that gives title to the last work). In any case, in this appeal to a tradition to cling to, it stands out, surprisingly, the memory of Marcel Duchamp (in Mar-Cel and Rrosa-ae) and is that, in fact, his work It is full of subtle folds that fit perfectly with the diagnosis we have proposed regarding these works. On the one hand, because it is in Duchamp where, for the first time in an explicit way, the solemn tautology of modern art is fully assimilated. Hence his memory is not strange, as if his name were an antidote, throughout the innocent period. On the other hand, and still to apply his lesson to the long series of the first works, Duchamp is also the best one who can instruct in the practice of rhetorical (ironic) camouflages that give viability to proposals, in fact, unusual .

(1) In the shop window of a renowned Barcelona jewelery, a multitude of fish cut in paper money are stopped by a rain of hams just above an oyster town that shows their pearls joyfully.

(2) Kill, oh! is, in fact, the generic name, conceived by J.M.Calleja, to collect the works of different authors in the slaughterhouse of the city of Mataró.

Text of the catalog Water trips. Cultural Center of Alcoy. Alcoy 1993

Francesc Miralles
Water is one of the four elements of classical cosmologies. For that reason in all the religions it has a decisive meaning and symbolism. It would only be necessary to go a long way through the biblical texts – which are at the base of Western civilization – to see the great wealth of passages where water plays a decisive role: wells, fountains, frost, crossing the sea … the most decisive and symbolic moments are developed around the water. And it all begins and ends – birth and death – with its allusion and presence. It is so essential that it is constituted in the element that introduces, with baptism, the spiritual life. And for that reason, pilgrimage sites have water, as an ineluctable presence. Water has the symbolism of being a source of life, a means of purification and a regeneration element. Hence his long poetry.

But keep in mind that there are two kinds of water: the sweet and the broth, pure and bitter, rain and sea. That is, not only must water be considered as benefactors, but they can be the engine of destruction and punishment. There are waters of life and water of death. There is welfare and torrential rain, oasis water and the storm of the sea.

And water is the essential element of life, human and plant, just as we find it at the origin of life, in most cosmologies. The sky – clouds – and the Earth – rivers, oceans – are covered with water, a universal and mysterious element, as Marcel Moreau said. The inverted equilateral triangle or the circle with a horizontal diameter have become their best known symbols.

Surprisingly, this element, so rich in symbolic meanings in all cultures, so present in our daily lives, so necessary for our lives, is not the object of greater attention on the part of the artists, especially the conceptual artists. And it is not surprising that it is J.M.Calleja who presents us, now, this show in which the water is constituted in the bond of the discourse. Not surprisingly, because this artist mataroní is one of the conceptual Catalan artists – decanted towards visual poetry – that works with greater reflection and certainty the subjects that are proposed. And lately he was already insisting on the analysis of the presence of water. It is worth remembering its incisive Seaside.Opus 87 which he presented at H’ART de l’Hospitalet in 1987, The voice of the gods, at the Pati Manning and Back to the goddess, at the Arcs & Cracs Gallery, both installations to Barcelona in 1992.

Now, with fifteen works – installations, objects and notebooks – it presents a fertile reflection made through works in which water is a determining element. Perhaps two works give us the scope and breadth of this reflection: Page. 959, which is limited – as in the most classic conceptual – on page 959 of the Arimany dictionary, which defines the word Ocean, and Shipwrecks, where ten herrings show what is a vital twist.

This exhibition – definitely the most suggestive of the ones performed by the artist – is rich because it oscillates between game and denunciation, between poetics and philosophy, between nostalgia and rebellion. Only Water impose the game, in Proposal zero the complaint. In Postal we enter poetry, Diana to philosophy. In honor of Arthur Cravan, he is left with nostalgia, in Duet we find ourselves with nonconformism.

Peculiarly, this sample is not a reflection on water, but it is a reflection on life made with works that have water as a conceptual and, at times, physical support. And as a reflection on life we are faced with works that demand a slow and dreadful contemplation. J.M.Calleja brings us perhaps the most subtle aspects of his creativity, at the same time as the most disturbing and rewarding aspects of existence.

Text of the catalog Water trips. Cultural Center of Alcoy. Alcoy 1993