Estiarte presents the latest project from Darío Urzay created based on an action on the landscape of La Rioja and set up via works for video, sculpture, photography and drawing which show his most recent concerns about the superposition and creation of processes, concepts, techniques and plastic procedures for a painting expanded on this occasion on geography and topography.
The work of Darío Urzay (Bilbao, 1958) involves one of the most original plastic reflections in our country focused on the exploration of relations between digital art and its virtual facet, photography and reality, and new codings of painting whose reflection regarding the relation between reality and fiction continue, by means of the hybridisation of techniques and procedures, to question concepts related to multiplicity, authenticity and the simulacrum of the work of art and its creative reverses:
"Urzay, more than any other artist working in this field, closes the circle of this process, taking it further, exploiting the epistemological similarities between painting which follows a cold process, one of non-intervention, and the warmer software available to the general public (...) his abstractions filled with references are completely cross-bred in his voracious pirating of techniques and procedures of different and counterposing media, both artistic and those of the mass market" says David Pagel in the catalogue of exhibition of Urzay's work held in the Sala de Rekalde in Bilbao in 2000, where the artist himself points out: "I am not interested in either abstract or figurative painting. These two terms correspond to a way of classification of the last century which makes no sense today. To speak of an abstract painting is to speak of a genre painting, it's like talking about still-life painting or figure painting. To speak about abstraction is different, it's to speak about a way of proceeding, of signs and references. What interests me most is the way of being and the state of things, and the positioning of the signs and their relations: the synthetic compared to the symbolic".
On this occasion, Pasajes [Landscapes] shows us a broadening of the possibilities of signifying images. Unlike in minimal art, which considered its own self-referentiality, in other words, a self-referentiality with respect to its form, in these works, Darío Urzay makes us consider the self-referential character of the project with respect to its own content, and more concretely, to the quality of a particular landscape, located in Sajazarra, La Rioja, Spain, traversed by an action (a performance produced in situ) which implies certain events of a character that is emotional, experiential, even performative.
This latest project starts on a hill close to the village of Sajazarra, La Rioja, Spain, which each year invites an artist to carry out an intervention on its surrounding landscape. Darío Urzay accepted the commission in the summer of 2006 and on the basis of that experience he has produced the project which now arrives at the gallery. Just as a geologist works on the land contributing geographical data, so in Sajazarra Darío Urzay works with same the tools as the geologist (measuring apparatus, calculation of coordinates and contour lines, orographic fieldwork, geodesic locations, etc.) in order to arrive at conclusions from his aesthetic praxis, in other words, from painting. Both construct or recreate a landscape that is the object of study and analysis, each according to his own manner, in order to arrive, one at a geographical map and the other at the extension of the pictorial meaning and at the filling of its plastic significance:
"I am very interested in scientific images, but I take possession of them from outside, mine can never be a scientific point of view but rather that of a visual creator. I do not aim to reproduce any scientific image in my works. When I'm creating, images arise that can suggest something from the world of science, of biology, images that seem to be taken from an atlas of histology, but what comes to the surface is in reality a reflection of what arises from the subconscious. We have a file of technological or scientific images in our memory, which we have been accumulating as a result of seeing documentaries, magazine photos, etc...", says the artist.
The cornerstone of his intervention in Sajazarra was the installation of two monoliths at the highest point of the hill. Their location now forces the cartographer to draw a higher contour line, raising the maximum height by 80 cm. On the basis of this piece present in the exhibition, at the top of which are drawn the contour lines of the actual ground and a sample of its soil with the moulding of stones, earth and vegetation, Darío Urzay works taking photographs and video from cranes and light aircraft from a view that is immediately overhead and which excludes any line of horizon (the viewer is the horizon for whom Darío aims to break their horizon of expectations) and locating the look of the floating viewer. This point is taken to the extreme in the piece for video, whose possibility for viewing extends to 360º, by means of the viewer manipulating a device for choosing a spherical point of view.
The photographs are selections of the territory surrounding the area of Sajazarra and the location of the monoliths taken from light aircraft. The editing decisions of the photographs as far as the crudeness in colour and the circular format are concerned give these pieces their unreal appearance, their abstract transformation, their purely pictorial value, given that, moreover, a subsequent digital process has eliminated "the air" from the picture, discarding the misty sensation, the emotional and landscape dreaminess in order to provide the image with an objectivity that is crystalline, sharp and precise, helped by their finishing in resins: "All my works have a very photographic quality, and our brain is trained to recognise something even when looking involuntarily or automatically. We are accustomed to this even in the formally most abstract of photographs, so that when seeing my images, the intervention of the photographic code means that the viewer thinks they recognise something", says Darío Urzay.