The exhibition hall is a space dedicated to the scopic. In it, objects arranged like metaphorical targets are offered, attracting or requiring our attention, to be-seen by spectators who knowingly come to fulfill that role, which does not cease to be consubstantial to them, although it is customarily exercised in the most inadvertent manner. Therefore, among other things, the works on display can reinforce or lead to a consideration of this condition. Here we have the two poles of the scopic: the objective, what is to be looked at, and the observer, the person who is to look.
Linguistic particularities and different universes aside, Miki Leal, Pere Llobera, José Medina Galeote and Andrei Roiter share an interest in the gaze and the act of seeing. In general, the elements that they represent are shown clearly and emphatically. In many cases they are at the center the compositions or the pictorial planes/spaces, whereas in others they draw on a way-of-seeing inherited from some of the mass media, such as subjective views. They may situate interposed bodies (openings and slits)-an eminently Duchampian resource-filtering our gaze and eventually leading it to what is to be seen-the margins of the pictorial space are already a composition per se, which can direct and connote-so they reinforce our role as observers by alluding to the act of looking or seeking our presence as spectators. Some of them use solutions of an optical nature and a technical vocabulary, such as perspective markers, vanishing points, concentric compositions, targets or military-style viewfinders, seemingly pinpointing the objectives, sights, or places to be looked at. They also incorporate recreations of technology employed for image capture, such as video cameras or photographic cameras. And the figure of the spectator, a reflection of those of us who look, is also represented, perhaps as a replica of our situation before the work itself, as subjects converted into objects.
Underlying these statements about the scopic are corresponding poetics of the gaze and pictorial representation. But in addition to this interest in the scopic that they share it should be pointed out how all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, also share an eagerness to hide and escape. However paradoxical it may be, considering the will to highlight and offer the object or focus of the onlooker's gaze, they make the representation elusive and fugacious. One can appreciate, therefore, a pendulous strategy. Before the certainty of fulfilling their role, their function, at the mercy of the abovementioned resources, observers find themselves before a space of void, of indetermination that prevents them from apprehending what is supposedly so clear, evident, definitive and pristine before their eyes. To provide incentive for the desire to see in order to abort it, to interrupt it, at the risk of originating a certain amount of tension caused by the impossibility of knowing, since what is represented is generally offered to us in a recognizable form. It seems that in the case of these four artists the recognizable as a doorway to knowledge is not enough. Looking should not be understood as synonymous for seeing. Might this sensation that can arise before some of the paintings be a metaphor of the visual environment, of the iconosphere? It is no longer only a question of the inflation of visual stimuli that can saturate us, but an increasing awareness of the spectator's role before interfaces-screens-before two-dimensional surfaces, such as the canvas. And however much we look, however much we try to see those screens, the void or nothingness seem to prevail.
In any case, Leal, Llobera, Medina Galeote and Roiter do not consciously seek to convert their works into metaphors that allude to social symptoms, behavioral patterns or customs. This elusive and fugacious nature must be related to a reflection on the pictorial medium itself, perhaps in response to the unrelenting speed and instantaneity of image sharing. Despite the clarity of what is represented, and perhaps its automatic recognition, they leave the resolution and the meaning of what is to be seen in suspense. Perhaps as a fascination for enigma, for not closing off meaning, for suspending us, for obligating us to a more intense exercise of explanation, for causing a possible ‘uneasiness' or for counteracting the apparent simplicity of what is represented with a certain ineffable quality. The escaping, or hiding, which follows the assumption on the part of the spectators of what they are to see, is especially evident in a work like Cave, by Llobera, before which we stand forcing ourselves, as in a caving exercise, to lose our gaze inside the cave, in the void, in the darkness. To look so as not to see. To seek so as not to find. But the cave is also a place in which to hide and escape. Like other resources through which to hide or turn his back on us, which Llobera employs as resistance to being apprehended.
Roiter continually invites us to discover him, to learn of his identity and his workspaces. He offers himself to us, through assemblages of pieces of wood and tumbledown walls, in self-portraits, images of himself in the midst of the creative process or in his own workshop, which takes on a hybrid form of cabin-chamber-suitcase. The slits and holes through which we must look hardly sate the curiosity he has awoken.
And paradoxically Roiter's identity escapes us. Although Roiter can represent himself in those hybrid artifacts: he who sees, he who collects what he sees and he who allows others to see something.
Leal has in the concealment of the already-painted (by layers) a usual procedure, which is combined with the subjective views and other markers that make us feel like spectators, like the replica of the onlooker in the canvas. He simultaneously indicates what we should look at and conceals from us other images and information, giving rise to doubt and leading to the construction of a tale.
Medina Galeota, with psychasthenic and cannibal painting, invites us to look at a representation that, through the sum of innumerable brushstrokes, is constructed and destructed in a feedback movement. For the observer, succeeding in discovering what is hidden is a need rather than a demand.
Meanwhile, the onlooker is suspended by the oscillation of a painting that plays at giving itself and not giving itself, at showing itself and hiding, at escaping. At letting itself be looked at and, perhaps, not be seen.