VALENCIA. “I invite you to imagine the silence”. This is the proposal proposed by the artist Jaume Plensa to his parishioners, a request that is not trivial, since silence is the door to a universe in which, ultimately, one finds oneself. No annoying noise, no distractions. This invitation is curious because, precisely, a large part of his production -at least the one with the greatest public reach- faces visitors from the same street, an open and often noisy space from which, however, always, He has claimed the pause. That confrontation is now less, as the artist leaves the street to open the doors to his place of retreat, the Jaume Plensa cathedral. Silence please. This is the framework in which nothing poetry of silence, the exhibition with which he arrives at Fundación Bancaja, a project that turns the halls of the cultural center into a kind of temple, a space for introspection and spirituality in which the word plays a key role. “A language is a place, a physical space, a building of sound letters that we inhabit and share in our voices”, reflects the artist.
Fundación Bancaja presents what is one of the largest retrospectives carried out to date of one of the most renowned sculptors in international contemporary art, a tour that completes that most media production, which refers to the large sculptures that crown the space urban, with other pieces less known to the public, of a smaller format. “Plensa in its purest form”, stressed the president of Fundación Bancaja, Rafael Alconduring the presentation of the sample, in which he was accompanied by the curator, javier molins, and the artist himself. Alcón also placed the accent on that “calm space” that frames the exhibition, a journey that leaves behind the street noise to shelter in the cathedral of art, a path that, in any case, is not drawn as two watertight compartments but for the one that raises a bridge that begins in the same square of Tetuán.
The entrance to the cultural center is the first ‘room’ of the exhibition, a square that houses the installation of White Nomada sculpture more than four meters high that presents a human figure created from letters of various alphabets, a piece that accompanies it in the lobby Together, a hand also made up of letters that he made for the 2015 Venice Biennale. “Sculpture creates bridges between people and cultures,” says the artist himself, who emphasizes the homage to the “diversity” that both pieces represent and , also, in a story that passes, not so much through religion, but through the idea of spirituality. “We are not talking only about aesthetics, but about ethics […] This has been lost in recent years”, he reflects.
These pieces are the prologue to a story that is revealed in layers and that is hidden behind a curtain that the visitor must cross -and listen- to immerse themselves in the exhibition itself, a piece that has its origins in the artist’s childhood, in his obsession with freeing poetry from the “tyranny” of paper, taking it to the territory of three dimensions. In it he “frees” from “that white wall that is the paper” the Song of songs, “the most beautiful in history”, a story that breaks down and gives sound to, once crossed, run into one of its iconic heads, in this case with its eyes closed and asking for silence. We are not talking about a silence as a rule, of that obligatory in hospitals and schools, but of an invitation to introspection, a personal journey that wants to avoid noise, however difficult that may be in 2022.
“I try to manufacture silence in a very noisy time. We are once again in a war in the heart of Europe, at a time when nature is in danger… and despite this we receive so many messages that are useless”, reflects Plensa. And it is important, in this case, to further explore that concept of silence on which Plensa works –and defends-, since it is not about an absence of ideas, of reflection, of an, in short, emptiness. Rather the opposite. Plensa’s silence refers to a process of introspection, to focus that dialogue on the cathedral that each one is. Sincerely, honestly, and, above all, not interfered with by external and fleeting agents. “I am concerned because there is a huge media noise of messages that are not useful. Suddenly we discovered that we have an inner life and no one had told us about it. Borders or politicians change but you remain the same, and nobody talks to you about it […] Because of education, because of culture, we never talk about ourselves. We are ashamed but this silence is necessary to look within. It would be a revolution if we really did it.”
This request for silence –“poetic”- gives way to an exhibition that aims to reveal a Jaume Plensa, perhaps less media-focused, but no less interesting, a unique journey through pieces that, in some cases, had not been exhibited for decades. to the public, a set of works that speak and use words from both a formal and an intellectual point of view. In this context, works such as Mother’s, brothers either fathersthe three from 1990, in which the artist places words inscribed on dildos that are clearly influenced by the writings of Freud and her relationship with sex, pieces that are complemented by another series of works that deal with dreams and desire or the female face, key in her work. “The world would need a more feminine attitude. We boys are a nice accident, but an accident”, stressed Plensa,
The exhibition tour is full of nods to authors who have marked him, in works such as Matter-Spirit, two gongs that have their origin in the artist’s passion for william blake and its hell proverbs. Part of his work on paper is also present, in this case with a series of drawings whose origin was the illustration of the book Teatro Completo de William Shakespeare for the publishing house Galaxia Gutenberg-Círculo de Lectores. To do this, he made 51 drawings and associated each one with a concept present in the work of the English author. This is how words like “Desire”, “Insomnia”, “Land”, “Night” or “War” appear, together with faces that the artist extracts from old geography books from colonial times.
In this review of the ‘authors of his life’ there was also time to talk about someone who marked his career, Vincent Andres Estelles. “What had to be an hour with him ended in two days. We went to Malvarrosa to smoke and drink. I have never tried to get to know the artists that have interested me, but with Estellés it was different, I believed that I also had to get to know the man. And I was right. His work has accompanied me throughout my life. Hotel Paris It is one of the fundamental poetry books in Spain”, explained during an interview with culturplaza. On this new visit to Valencia, decades after that meeting, Estellés’ words continue to resonate in Plensa’s head, of which he recovered these yesterday: “The poet must always be on vigil […] he cannot sleep in the long night of his town”. And so the sculptor continues, decades later, without losing sight of his surroundings and, also, of himself. Silence, he thinks.