September 2010, Jordi Alcaraz @ Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

Jordi Alcaraz, El Temps (Time), 2010

19th Century Sculpture and Plexiglass, 32 1/8 x 20 x 16 1/8 inches
Courtesy, the artist and Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

Jordi Alcaraz
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts
357 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
September 11 through December 24, 2010

How does one paint one’s breath, show the composing process of a travel book or reduce a room into a painting? These are the kind of questions Catalonian artist Jordi Alcaraz enjoys toying with. Some of his works can be currently viewed at the Jack Rutberg Gallery of Fine Arts, the space that gave him his first solo U.S. exhibition Traslúcido.

One aspect that makes Alcaraz’s show so appealing is its Catalonian sensibility. There are organic shapes in Gaudi’s style, reflected images with surrealist appeal, and many evocative works that keep one wondering. Some have a feeling reminiscent of the Spanish Civil War. Others seem to be inspired by Robert Motherwell, especially his painting Elegy to the Spanish Republic. The show, spread out through the two main gallery rooms at Jack Rutberg’s, is particularly beautiful because of its poetic and philosophical nature, its subtle colors and the elements Alcaraz works with: transparency, reflection and writing.

Time consists of an antique wooden sculpture, a nun-like figure, encased in plexiglass. She reaches the fingers of her left hand through an opening in the vitrine, whose front wall is pulled sharply inward, creating a shape similar to a martini glass. The contrast between the two materials - one seems to represent the traditional world, the other, the modern - is analogous to what we find in today’s architectural landscape in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. The enclosed sculpture also provides an interior versus exterior perspective, and creates a dimension of someone from the past looking into the future and vice versa. The idea of using surrounding glass is reminiscent of modern architectural concepts where buildings include large windows and sliding glass walls (as in Richard Neutra’s designs) to bring the outside in. Situating a religious sculpture in a modern frame, the work also suggests the development of religion over time. There is also the element of a nun breaking through a wall, maybe a wall that leads to the mysterious and unknown, as in the works by Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies. This is exactly what American curator and critic Peter Selz’s calls attention to in the book Jordi Alcaraz dibuiox, when he writes “Alcaraz takes physical space, objects, and ideas and projects them into new dimensions.”

In painting and breathing, a white paper is displayed as two pages of an open book. The surface is covered on the left hand-side by a black mark similar to a Chinese or Japanese calligraphy character, and the entire work is covered by two layers of plexiglass. The top layer is smooth, the bottom has a slight distortion that appears to be a chain of bubbles. Delicate shadows are thrown onto the paper. Alcaraz’s work evokes the idea that the creation of art is as essential to an artist as breath is for the human being. It also suggests process and evolution, and the association with breath has a meditative implication - breathing is practiced in Yoga and Qigong. 


Jordi Alcaraz, Proces Reduir Aquesta Habitacio a Pintura (Process to Reduce this Room Into a Painting), 2010
Glass, Painting, Plaster, Wood, 57 7/8 x 77 1/2 inches
Courtesy, the artist and Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

Process to reduce this room into a painting, among the more surrealist pieces in the show, consists of a mirror with a silver surface that looks like liquid. There is a hole in the upper left corner from which that liquid seems to run. The reflection in it of Rutberg’s gallery is soft and melting, like the watches in Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory. The hole is implicated as being the entire gallery. Hence, Alcaraz has not only turned a three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional one, he's also made the inside of a gallery space appear to be bigger than the gallery as a whole.

One of the more philosophical pieces, Book of Travels, is an opened book showing two blank pages, where the writing of the underlying pages shimmers through. Several layers of plexiglass cover the book, on which black lines of various sizes are engraved, leading in different directions. Some of the lines cross each other, like the life lines on a palm; others expand to the left and right over the edges of the book. In this piece Alcaraz reminds us that he’s more interested in the composition process than the art work itself. Through different layers of the plexiglass some lines seem to be closer to the page than others. This suggests that some thoughts are to be written down, others are still in development, and a few might lead to other thoughts and future projects. The work can be also understood as a metaphor for the human being and the journey he or she takes.

What’s striking about Alcaraz’s works is that he seems to be more interested in the evolutionary aspect of art making than the art itself. He places value on all art forms and their origin, and shows them in relationship to other fields, like the sciences and humanities. He takes the viewers' and art dealers' perspectives and interpretations in consideration, drawing attention to not only what he’s trying to convey, but to the perceptions of others, or even the world.

Jordi Alcaraz, Llibre D'Astronomia (Book of Astronomy), 2010
Book, Drawing, Plexiglass, Wood, 32 1/8 x 40 inches
Courtesy, the artist and Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

Jordi Alcaraz, Llibre de Viatages, 2010
Book, Drypoint on Plexiglass, Wood, 24 1/4 x 32 inches
Courtesy, the artist and Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

Simone Kussatz

Simone Kussatz is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written numerous articles in the field of the arts for international and national magazines published in Germany, the US and UK, China, Iceland, and Switzerland. Kussatz was born in Asperg, Germany. She holds a Master's degree in American Studies, journalism and psychology and received her education from Santa Monica College, UCLA and the Free University of Berlin. In 2004, she produced and hosted three TV-shows under the title "Metamorphosis", where she conducted interviews with Jewish artists in regard to the Holocaust. Kussatz has also worked in theater in the position of stage supervisor and manager in the plays “Talley’s Folly” and “The Immigrant.” She has taught English as a Second Language and served at Xiamen University in China, as well as EC Language Center in London.

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