Iván de la Nuez
Pablo Martínez’s works reveal the entire sculpture process. With his unerring honesty, the author discovers the process through which his pieces can be put together and broken up, composed and decomposed. They place us before their construction, but at the same time they turn us into spectators of the decomposition of his sculptures. They become models for construction in which the spectator can also intervene in his own way. Here, the word ‘piece’ refers us to its meaning as ‘work’, as well as to its strict, literal meaning. To the piece as part of a whole; as a fragment.
This involves the concept of workshop: his studio is a more or less formal place where pieces are assembled with others. However, it reaches its true climax as a scrapyard, as an area where, once they have been built, the works are broken up into pieces. That’s why Pablo Martínez’s sculptures refer to anagrams, jigsaws, puzzles, crosswords. They are ways of organising chaos; of finding the constants of a system that affords stability and meaning to sculpture under the flow of every possible form of instability.
In a society in which everything becomes a totem (consumerism, sports teams, objects), the fact that all kinds of taboo flourish at the same time comes as no surprise: childhood, sexuality, money, religion… Through his sculptures, Pablo Martínez shows that in a society riddled with taboos, totems can represent an element of liberation. They remind us of pagan beliefs, of evil and of what is laden with freedom and mystery. No matter how modern our surroundings seem, both the totem and the taboo constitute the archaic experience of our contemporary experience. But here, the totem is treated as something that offers hope and the possibility of freedom. As something that is pagan and sensual. A deity without a temple.
Here, nothing is new. Indeed, they were the foundations for Hiëronymus Bosch and Gericault, Goya and Manet. They dealt with the most delicate, turbid and ambiguous problems of their day (sex and blood, death and love, play and cruelty), but always from formal standpoints that guaranteed their inclusion in the history of art. Pablo Martínez assumes this idea, which has existed from pre-Raphaelism to pop, and, from the apparent coldness of his pieces, he experiments the removal of the spectator with what Susan Sontag once called ‘art erotica’.
That’s why these pieces are connected with certain works by Henry Moore. And they propose a reflection on nature and its relationship with everyday life, with what is transcendental and with technology. All based on the recovery from that first moment of modern art in which pieces, objects and words still refer to things. That’s why the pieces of Totem are suspected of expressing new concepts, but always through aesthetic shapes assumed by the artistic tradition of the West.
In her book Overlay, Lucy Lippard put forward a criticism that projected the past on the present, primitive on modern, through the work of contemporary artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Smithson and Ana Mendieta. Lippard brought a message laden with utopia for the future: the world can be a different place. From an inverted road, in her pagan theory of sexuality, Camille Paglia fiercely defended the crudity of contemporary art and reminded us of the fact that laws were less important than imagination when dealing with the dilemmas presented by culture and art at the end of the millennium. The pieces by Pablo Martínez fleetingly reconcile these two problems: they are a formal part of the tradition of western sculpture, but they create concern and make us doubt of such formality. They have the ability to bring us before the freedom and chaos present in our most sophisticated creations.
Iván de la Nuez