The exhibition ¡Vivan los campos libres de España!, featuring the work of Antonio Ballester Moreno and curated by Tania Pardo, is an invitation to contemplation extended by thirty-odd enormous canvases and two installations, in which the artist revisits much of his imagery based on geometry, popular culture and nature.
The title ¡Los campos libres de España! (Long Live the Free Fields of Spain!) is a phrase uttered by the sculptor Alberto Sánchez during one of his country rambles on the outskirts of Madrid with the painter Benjamín Palencia and recorded in the book Palabras de un escultor, written by the sculptor himself in conversation with Jorge Lacasa. That idea of the juxtaposition of the modern and rural worlds of 1940s Spain now serves to reveal the graphic effects of natural patterns, cycles and seasons on our psychology. Always focused on the essential, the spare, formal language of Antonio Ballester Moreno (b. Madrid, 1977) is based on an abstraction that forges symbols out of basic geometric shapes. Moons, suns, rain and stars are used to represent a life cycle with lines and strokes reminiscent of early avant-garde artists like Paul Klee, Joan Miró and Josef Albers.
At the same time, the show alludes to the context that witnessed the rise of the first artistic avant-garde movements and all of their chronological benchmarks, such as primitivism, childhood, geometry, concrete art, abstraction, figuration and realism. This exhibition, conceived as one huge installation, represents a period of nature through the autumn season, rain, sun and moon. These elements refer to basic geometric shapes as well as to the context that witnessed the emergence of the first artistic avant-garde movements and their chronological precedents, such as primitivism, childhood, geometry, concrete art, abstraction, figuration and realism.
The works of Antonio Ballester, one of the biggest names in Spanish painting today, point to a world of primary colours and childish forms where materials like unprocessed jute or clay yield an oeuvre of singular beauty, austere shapes representing planets and stars on colour fields. His artistic practice is a convergence of various themes, including that of the education and learning that has enabled him to create a symbolic world where everything is connected.
In recent years, this artist has gradually refined and reduced his formal language to simplified forms and colours that allude to the most basic, to origins. The result is a careful selection of works that form a lovely natural landscape and reveal the artist’s personal style, with its emphasis on the essential and vernacular.
La Casa Encendida has published a book to accompany this exhibition which contains over twenty collages as well as texts by the sculptor, writer and scholar Juan Borders, the curator and researcher Ulrich Schötker, the professor and historian Rafael Sánchez-Mateos and the curator Tania Pardo.