Miguel Ángel Tornero
Where I come from, around this time of the year, just when the olive harvesting season ends, the preparation of the olive trees for the next season begins. Whether it is to guide the growth of the tree, to regenerate it, to clear and/or ventilate the field or to optimise the yield, the usual procedure is to cut off the superfluous branches, leaving the tree to focus all its vigour on the new shoots and fruitful branches. Once the remains are gathered, the tradition -which is becoming in disuse – is to burn in-situ what we popularly call “el ramón”: remains of dry leaves and old branches that should be eliminated, as otherwise they would be a focus of attraction for pests or diseases. The process is completed with various treatments that help healing, in which, basically, the tree is impregnated with protective elements -often copper- and the healing of wounds is promoted.
Quemar ramón – to burn ramón– is also the title of this project. It takes that quotidian cathartic and purifying ritual as starting point in three acts: Pruning -in which we are focusing on now, burning and healing; and in addition, it begins in this exhibition celebrating the opening of a new space, a new stage.
Pruning is an inevitably act of violence which, paradoxically, seems liberating and indispensable on the path to healing. It is a battle and a celebration at the same time. A series of decisions that make impossible to postpone the duty of deciding what to do, where to cut, what to give up, where to concentrate the energy… A move to physical action, based on cuts and clippings, a slash-and-burn collage that breaks, when the smoke rises, the monotony and horizontality of the landscape; a liberating exercise in an open and unprejudiced playing field; and, curiously, at the same time, it means an exaltation of the need and richness of transition moments, even those that are apparently unproductive; a warning against overproduction and an invitation to respect the processes, to take the time needed, also waiting for the fruit of the wait to ripen.
If some time ago the object of study was the botany of the suburbs, which grows “against” the grain in the wastelands, this time, in the cultivated inland fields, we are concerned with the tree that monopolises all the attention, all the care and all the handling: the omnipresent olive tree, carrier of the fluid that feeds the engine. The reason for this insistence on looking to the earth, to the place of the root, is timidly intuited… but it is not something as simple as mere nostalgia, nor the revival or praise pursued. Perhaps it is a settling of scores or a vital need to resolve something that, even is still unknown.
On this occasion, the photography is absent – a privileged family bond with the land – and a crude and austere fiction is pursued; an exercise that this time eludes the protective filter of looking through the viewfinder – or screen – and avoids the immortalized part of what is seen and lived. A real representation without commitment to reality. Those are the rules of the game today. Of course, it is not a denial, but it does feel like freeing oneself from what limits -whether imposed by others or by oneself- and, above all, a desire to enjoy a direct dialog with the materials and the memory to fill the time acting/creating -no doubt, the best moment of a parishioner profession-, letting oneself go. We try to translate intuitively the essence of the fragments of everyday scenes stored, full of textures, colours and sensations that populate this latent landscape, which come and go taking shape between experience and imagination: the stained brown paper that wraps the churros, the slipping of the hands over the oilcan, the slow and dense flow of the picual; the roughness of the bark of twisted arms as if crying out to heaven, the roughness of the dry earth and the smell of the wet one, which will mire the work; the greenness of the early oil or the infinite colour range in leaves and olives, the ochre and brown dialogue between the earth and the monumental stones, the gold bath of the bread at breakfast and of the wood in the altarpieces of the churches, the grey of the frost at dawn… And after marinating all this, seeing the result -perhaps without the appropriate distance-, trying not to judge, it can be observed a heavy, local, slow and sombre tone that fights against a quick, luminous, universal and free gesture; and one fantasises about apocryphal encounters of characters that, to a great extent, are surprisingly alluded to: Gutiérrez-Solana and Kippenberger chatting without a word; Zabaleta and Philip Guston in the sunshine of the countryside; Morandi, who preferred to stay in his room, sketching a drawing to approach the still life that Jason Rhoades had prepared for him with ochíos, virolos and other products of the earth; even Lucio Muñoz talks about his intimacies with Jimmie Durham in a confessional created by Richard Artschwager. Morris Louis has been fascinated for some time with the transition from oil to toast and it is not easy to recognize the whole retinue, but it seems that Braque, Gris, Penone, Franz West, Thomas Hirschhorn. are arriving for the gathering on the terrace of multicoloured chairs of the old Café Mercantil. Maruja Mallo, the waitress, will take note of the men and spit in each one’s coffee…
In the last scene of this act, after the delirium and in a strange movement, one looks at oneself with the gasoline can in hand, imagining how the fire will fulfil its purpose.
Miguel Ángel Tornero
Galería Juan Silió
C/ Doctor Fourquet, 18. 28012 Madrid
11AM – 7PM
11AM – 2PM
Exhibition subsidised by Ministry of Culture and Sport: