“The pointlessness of art is justified by the pointlessness of mankind’s imposition”
María Luisa Fernández, born in Villarejo de Órbigo, León, in 1955, started her artistic career with the creation of the artistic collective CVA (Committee of Artistic Vigilance), together with Juan Luis Moraza, between 1979 and 1985. The group made sculptures, texts and actions as a critical reflection on the representation and reception mechanisms of art pieces, the institution and the contemporary art system.After appearing in exhibitions such as Mitos y Delitos (Metrònom, Barcelona and Aula de Cultura, CAM, Bilbao, 1985) her name has been linked to the so-called “New Basque Sculpture”, a group of artists who became a model of art practice and art discussions that marked the 80’s decade in the Basque Country.
At the end of the 90’s, María Luisa Fernández moved to Vigo, her current residence place, and started a period in which she focused on university teaching. In 2014, a retrospective exhibition of her work took place in the Azkuna Zentroa, in Bilbao, and then in Vigo’s MARCO Foundation. These exhibitions showed two decades of her work until her last solo exhibition in 1997.
The present show is called “7, 608, 766, 433 +-”, the number of people dwelling on Earth nowadays. María Luisa Fernández has been reflecting for years about the Malthusian ideas condemning the overpopulation of the planet and the bad use of its already scarce natural resources. The tension between the culture world’s impermeability -especially that of art- and the natural environment is expressed in this exhibition through the contrast in space of its different formal signs.
The exhibition presents four series of recently created pieces, all bearing the generic title of “matter”, which is the defining element of existence. Two of the series are formally and conceptually linked to her former work: “Liberated Matter” (2017-2018) is a group of 100 paintings in oil on canvas where the artist overthrows the general idea of putting personal needs ahead of the common wellbeing; “Minimal Matter” (2011-2018) is a series of sculptures made in pine wood, consisting of anthropomorphous representations with features simplified to the maximum. These two series can be considered symbols of the alleged human progress.
Apart from these works, Fernández shows two more series representing the natural space, that formally differ from the other two in size and technique. “Shattered Matter” consists of small-format sculptures made of polyurethane foam, painted with different colours of acrylic. Its title refers to shapes suggesting animal attributes as if they were traces from the past. On the other hand, in “Multiplied Matter” we shall encounter animal silhouettes showing the proliferation of their image in contrast with their real disappearance.