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"Baltazar Torres: Hierbas Daninas - Harmful Weeds"
2004-06-22 until 2004-08-29
Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga
One of the most internationally recognised Portuguese artists, Baltazar Torres (Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, 1961), will be presenting Hierbas Dañinas (Harmful weeds), an exhibition created specially for CAC Málaga which, as he says himself, is his “best work so far”. Using a framework of miniature models and figures, he reflects on contemporary society and the way man transforms his environment.
Harmful Weeds brings together a total of fourteen works representing small stages where situations are enacted, highlighting the problems of dehumanisation and the absurdity of modern life. The small size of the pieces enables the spectator to observe events with the clarity that comes from distance, since, as Torres says, the speed of events happening leads people to take part in the “huge mistake” without realising.
Among the works on show, we should single out the ones grouped under the title Como Animales (Like animals, 2004), twenty scenes of 13x13x13 centimetres done with different materials such as wood, PVC, leather and tin. They are metaphors for the apartments of big cities, places of refuge where stress, anxiety and depression rise to the surface. The city in Torres’s work is a labyrinthine territory of search, panic and isolation. “It’s like being inside a tin of sardines, but without being able to communicate with other people”, says the artist.
Absurdity reaches its height in the works entitled Dúplex/Escenas Domésticas (Duplex/Domestic scenes, 2004), a kind of Garden of Earthly Delights in which he recreates a series of dwellings with four Le Corbusier chairs, long considered icons of modernity.
In the pieces Cuevas Urbanas, Nuevas Cartografías (Urban caves, new cartographies, 2004), the white of the figures represented contrasts with the orange of the bricks, illustrating the loss of human identity in big cities. The same thing happens with the works called Colmenas (Beehives, 2004), which reflect the artificial, industrial aseptic environment where people live. They seem to have everything under control and yet in the spectator it can only arouse a feeling of distress when faced with the degradation of the conditions of life they represent.
In Colmena/Cerca del Cielo y en el Infierno (Beehive/Near heaven and in hell, 2004) and ¿Puedes Salvarme? (Can you save me?, 2004), as he had in earlier works, Torres uses gas cylinders to recreate a universe where, despite the comforts and advances of development, people feel disorientated and lost and urgently need to be rescued from an environment which, in the end, is incomprehensible.
Committed to the problems of present day society, Baltazar Torres sets out to make the public aware of problems like the degradation of the environment, the rootlessness of modern man in a society which is too materialistic and not human enough, pollution, alienation, loneliness, isolation or non-communication. The aim is to raise a doubt about the real existence of the welfare society which modern, developed countries are always boasting about.
Torres, who is currently teaching drawing in the Fine Arts Faculty of the University of Oporto and the Art School of the Portuguese Catholic University, began his exhibition career in the early nineties when he held his first individual show at the Módulo Gallery in Oporto and Lisbon.
From 1996 he began to work with small formats charged with symbolism and irony, first in painting and then in installation. It is through the simplicity and minimalism of his models that he expresses his commitment to society and his constant search for a humanity that seems to have been lost.