Iñaki Domingo & Jorge Isla

La réalité de l’expérience

                            [The Reality of Experience]

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    Jorge Isla, from the serie Le Reflet, 2021
Mobile screens on dibond, 74 x 94 cm
© Jorge Isla

  Iñaki Domingo, Bipirámide especular vertical b/n, from the serie Mirrorworks, 2019
Diptych, 72 x 106 x 5 cm. Transparent mirror, black mirror, adhesive and metal © Iñaki Domingo

Text written for the artists' exhibition at Gallery S in Madrid in September 2023.

Website of the artists
Iñaki Domingo
Jorge Isla
Iñaki Domingo and Jorge Isla both come from the world of the image, and the works they present in dialogue for the first time in this exhibition do not disregard this background. Over and above their shared interest in plastic forms and an obvious correlation with abstract art, their respective research also touches on the question of the photographic and the political. Iñaki Domingo develops an artistic practice that questions the image and photography in the broadest sense. He studies the sometimes contradictory links between the act of looking, perception and representation. Jorge Isla's work focuses on the complex relationships between modes of production and consumerism in contemporary society. His sculptural, filmic and photographic works reflect a critical, social and societal gaze.

Have you ever sensed the feeling of collapse that comes over the owner of a smart phone that has just been dropped? An exploded screen that will inevitably remain black with a multitude of new veins on its surface... Panic. Dread. Immobilization. In a fraction of a second, everything in the body is annihilated! How can one live in isolation from this new extension of the hand, this object of reflection, one's own, that of others, of what we eat; the one that tells us where to go and how, what to look at and what to photograph?
Waste disfigures food because it exceeds its function: it is that which is not ingested; it is food put out of hunger.1 Waste is indeed that which has forfeited its function. Here, the new-generation tablets and cell phones used by the artist to compose his works are broken. The extinguished screens are nothing more than fragmentary residues of a memorial "ça a été."2 The image is gone, wandering in memories and imaginations.

Jorge Isla's sculptures and installations are reminiscent of modern vanities.
The highly plastique character of these unnaturally assembled everyday objects forms a science-fictional still life. A sort of archaeology of the future, presented on a pedestal for the Still Life series or on the wall for Le Reflet.
The artist challenges us to reflect on what our gestures imply, and what the symbolism of this more intelligent than human telephone, which has become indispensable to those who want to believe in it, carries beyond the utilitarian.
Obviously, the black screens in Jorge Isla's works have a boomerang effect on society, the proximity of science and fiction, of the black hole and the Black Mirror, the one that can reflect nothing but the immense void or the doorway to another dimension, a parallel life, Plato's cave... It's also a question of illusion, even the illusion of illusion, which we also find in the recent work of Iñaki Domingo.
Here, I'd like to talk about Miroir noir, also known as Claude Glass in reference to Claude Gelée, known as Le Lorrain, who used a small convex mirror darkened with lampblack. An indispensable tool for 18th-century artists and travellers in France and Great Britain, who turned their backs on the nature they wished to depict on their canvas and used the black mirror for their composition and their effects of light and color.
I find this human paradox in Jorge Isla's committed works. Today, referring to cell phones and their black screens as an accessory that enabled landscape artists to turn their backs on their subject... how can we fail to see this distortion as a metaphor for our contemporaries, who nowadays only know how to look at the world through the screen of their mobile?

Here we are fully in the adoration of the new objects of the Sacred3. And I can't help thinking of the difficulty I had the first time I had to cross Christian Marclay's Footstep4 , like all music lovers and record collectors... and to draw a current parallel with Jorge Isla's work It is what it is, when visitors have no choice but to trample their sacred object that covers the floor of the exhibition space.

In the Blanco de España series, the artist had already confronted the viewer with the unlit screen of shop windows turned white in Spain, windows of projections of images without images, a place of all imaginaries and all projections.
The works of Jorge Isla and Iñaki Domingo are eminently generative of the imaginary, "(...) it is the imaginary that becomes the producer of systems to increase our understanding of reality, the latter not being composed solely of what is proven: what is not yet proven can, or at any rate could, exist."5

The omnipresent and missing image, proliferating, seen but not really looked at. This is another point that links the two artists: their tenuous link with the photographic. The image, images, remain in the work and research of Domingo and Isla, and it is interesting to see how the works presented in conversation in the exhibition return the viewer to his contemporaneity and his immediate existence doomed to disappear... to the fugace.

A fleeting, uncapturable image, the scourge of the modern human: the Instagrammer!
In Iñaki Domingo's Mirrorworks, only the image I can see will be captured. It will be different depending on whether I'm tall or short, with precise acuity or with a macula, whether I'm presbyopic, a fighter pilot or in a normative reality of size and ophthalmic capacity.
The image I see is created as I move, as I face the work, as I pay attention, as I contemplate. Moving and fleeting. Magical, some would say, with the idea that only an image that will be visible to no one but me in a moment that can only be this one can be captured, captured by the eye.
Hic et nunc [here and now].
We can read into this a fantastic or religious version, like the link to icons, to that which is beyond us. But there's also a generosity, as this image will also live on in the colors and shapes that surround it. What have images always produced if not a fascination and a play on power, illusions and beliefs, magic, finitude and politics?

There's a sense of wonder in Iñaki Domingo's work, which challenges the viewer and clouds discernment.  This was already present in the photographic series From Somewhere to Nowhere and initiated in the Color Vaciado ensemble. Here, the artist plays with perceptions. The works in Mirrorworks open up the field of possibilities even further, since the image exists only when the eye sees it, and the forms produced by the artist are outside the photographic field. They have a clear filiation with abstract and kinetic art. How can we not find in them the idea of reality of a John Tremblay, the optical interpretations of a Philippe Decrauzat or the play of light of an Antonia Lambelé?
I rather like the fact that the artist diverts us ("us the viewer"), taking us from the notion of the impalpable to the fragility of our humanity. Her works subtly point up the ephemeral nature of what is seen, and carry a certain melancholy poetry.

Of course - and it would be an aberration not to mention it - the reflection and the missing image, which appears and disappears according to the movement of the viewer, are another thread between the two artists.  The works and statements of Domingo and Isla are complementary. Here, their dialogue accentuates the fact that each work offers a unique reflection to whoever faces it, passes in front of it, looks at it from an angle and plays with the hanging conceived by the artists and the curator.
An essential mirage.

Never have Marcel Duchamp's statement "It is the viewer who makes the work "6 been truer, and I would add to it Clement Greenberg's concluding words: "The only criterion is the reality of our experience."7

— Émilie Flory
Brussels-Paris, September 2023

1. Roland Barthes in Bernard Réquichot, Éditions La Connaissance, 1973
2. Roland Barthes, Camera lucida [ La chambre claire], Éditions Gallimard, 1980
3. et 7. Clement Greenberg, Art & Culture, Beacon Press, 1961
4. Christian Marclay, Footsteps, 1989. Installation consisting of vinyl records covering the floor of the exhibition space. Visitors have no choice but to walk on this carpet of records.
5. Michel Poivert, in Contre-culture dans la photographie contemporaine, Textuel, 2022
6. Marcel Duchamp at a conference about his Artwork Fontaine in 1965.


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