Alejandro Guijarro (b. 1979) is a Spanish artist who works primarily with photography, questioning its ability to refer to reality or truth. His work examines spatial relations in photographic representation, exploring what photography is still allowed and able to do.
His first major series, Momentum, was a 3-year project which saw Alejandro travel to the great Quantum Mechanics institutions around the world. From Berkeley in California to CERN in Switzerland, Alejandro photographed the blackboards as he found them, before reproducing them in life size.
What began as a lecture and a description of a physicist’s thought process is transformed into a galactic landscape open to any number of possibilities. These are not works that pretend to hold any kind of objective truth. Stripped of their wrapping, they are photographs of large drawings. Yet the process of finding, documenting and collecting them has a transmutational effect. The colourful equations remind us of Basquiat’s formulaic language and the white chalk evokes Cy Twombly’s later canvases. Each line and smudge has its own history and meaning, produced by a scientist unaware of their artistic merit.
For his second solo show at Tristan Hoare, Guijarro will present a new body of work that extends his photographic inquiries into the connection between art and science.
Working in collaboration with the conservation and collections departments of The Prado Museum, Madrid, The Louvre, Paris and The National Gallery, London, the artist scanned X-ray, infrared and ultra-violet renditions of Old Master paintings – including works by Uccello, van Dyck, Rubens, Delacroix, Goya and Velázquez amongst others. Monochromatic and energetic, the resulting photographs possess a graphic power strangely suggestive of the New York School artists or a Gerhard Richter abstract.
The title of the new series, LEAD, refers to the presence of the metal in 17th and 18th century paint. This is what the X-rays show, bouncing back off lead pigments and transforming the paintings from recognisable images into otherworldly scenes, as if the viewer is given access to a separate reality below the surface paint. Guijarro has taken a scientific process used to demystify the paintings and in doing so, made them more unknowable, blurring the divisions between science and art.
Says artist Alejandro Guijarro: ‘At the heart of this series of work is a paradox: as X-rays they belong to the realm of scientific images, objective, possessing an unquestionable scientific truth. Yet, by their visual indeterminacy, they also exist in the subjective world of personal interpretation, the intuitional and emotional.’
This series continues Guijarro’s investigations into the paradoxes and contradictions that emerge where the boundaries of the photographic image break down.
A catalogue of the complete LEAD series is available at the gallery, with an introduction by Francis Hodgson. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.