Ignasi Aballí began his artistic career in the 1980s in the medium of painting, but the traditional character of his first pieces was soon transformed by a distinctive new conception of pictorial language. In a radical change of direction, he abandoned traditional representation of reality to focus on the reality of painting itself. This new approach led him to use basic materials (sulphur, coal, ash, iron and so on) to strip the painting of any fictitious character and underscore its literal quality. This understanding of pictorial composition simplified his visual language and opened up a broad spectrum of possibilities, situating his work within the context of the crisis of representation that characterises modernism. This is exemplified in Malgastar, in which a number of open pots of paint allow their contents to gradually dry out, as if the paint were slowly being silenced. Based on this redefinition of painting, his work seemed to become more conceptual in nature. Pursuing a meticulous working method that involves collecting and classifying very subtle materials associated with the everyday (bits of fabric, dust, newspaper cuttings, sunlight, etc), he continues to allude to the disappearance of the pictorial—a strategy that clears the way for the emergence of a real world composed of simple tracks and traces. His work, which explores ambiguities between the visible and the absent, has gradually broadened in scope as he investigates other supposedly opposed worlds: the permanent and the ephemeral, creation and appropriation, and, particularly in recent years, the tension between reality and fiction. The complexity surrounding the notion of fiction is the conceptual starting point for many of Aballí’s works, including the ‘Sinopsis’ series (2005), a project based on the movie synopses published in newspaper film listings, which are juxtaposed with photographs of the physical spaces—film sets and screening rooms—where movies are created and viewed. The result is a narrative that swings between the real places where film images are created or consumed and their illusory character. This interest in the processes that underlie the construction and appearance of images in media culture is also reflected in works like Listados, which is made out of newspaper headlines. To create the piece, Aballí cut out numbers and scraps of information of all kinds and arranged them into groups: numbers of people—of dead, injured and disappeared—periods of time, sums of money, countries and so on. Removed from its original context, the information shifts around and recombines until the fragments of reality become little more than abstract indices. In all cases, the real world has been filtered through an awful media perspective that boils down and classifies events, reducing them to mere statistics. Another work that emerges directly from this methodology is Papel Moneda (2007), which is composed of eight pictures made of shredded paper money from the Bank of Spain. Each individual piece is made of shreds of paper from notes of the same denomination, except the last one, in which all the denominations are mixed. Once again, Aballí constructs an unexpected narrative, in this case by aesthetically recycling the material most valued in our society and piling it up in a way that reduces its value to that of an exhibition piece.
Andrea Aguado Alemany