Mar García Albert (Valencia, 1980) draws on Before and After, an installation by Franck Scurti (Lyon, 1965) shown at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2002, as one of the initial referents for 75°. In his piece, Scurti introduces a performative game that particularly drew the Valencian painter’s attention. In Before and After, a number of garden chairs, painted blue, are distributed around the exhibition space as resting places for the information and security staff on duty. The paint is wet, so when people get up from the chairs, they stroll around the rooms with blue bands marked on their clothes.
Leaving aside the dynamic between the gallery staff and Scurti, who worked together to surprise visitors, what interests the artist is not so much the joke as the use of wet paint as the main working tool, which is quite the opposite of the conventional presentation of dry paint in the exhibition space. The unstable condition that marks a temporality and a specific experience invites us to engage in another type of ritual and in a different kind of relationship with the art object. When all is said and done, if the paint dries, Before and After no longer works.
Following Presente continuo (2014), Mar García Albert’s first attempt in which she exhibited a large wet canvas in the City of Amposta Art Biennial, 75° represents a central chapter in her research into the factor of time applied to paint. Just as media such as video and sound or live art depend on a particular timespan, the artist’s project links the duration of the exhibition with the technical, processual and temporal factors that determine the drying of the oil paint. This constitutes a performative gesture involving a strict and unwavering decision, which is to show the pictorial works during the period of time in which they are wet and to remove them from display as soon as they dry.
On this occasion, the artist leaves the canvas – historically the ideal space for paint – to one side and instead creates a kind of sculptural installation made up of lengths of wood resting against the walls of La Capella. The angle of the bits of wood in relation to the walls is exactly 75°, from which the exhibition takes its title; an angle that is intentionally far from the artistic and explicitly close to the technical. It is a foray into the object, a distancing from two-dimensionality that incorporates a new conceptual register inspired by Minimalism: the precise module and its rhythmic and chromatic repetition in the exhibition space.
Despite the visual force of 75° – the staging of a well-ordered array of coloured lengths of wood arranged against the stone walls of La Capella – the crux of the project is the time-related nature of the exhibition. A precise timespan defined as much by the technical aspects of the drying of the paint as by the environmental characteristics of the space and time of year – the height of summer – when the exhibition is on display. As a result, the artist has carefully analysed each of the pieces, has made a decision about the application of the paint and, as far as possible, has predicted how long each of the pieces of wood will be shown. The proposal indirectly resists the conventions set by the exhibition calendar, thereby pursuing a flexible process that may possibly end before or after the programmed date. To add force to her action, Mar García Albert has included in the project a contract signed with the institution detailing the instructions regarding the removal of the pieces of wood as the paint covering them dries. This makes for a flexible and changing exhibition. 75° is being shown in the Sala Gran at La Capella until 6 September but will gradually alter during the almost two months it is due to run, unless it closes beforehand. It all depends on the humidity level.
Mar García Albert holds a BA in Economics from the University of Valencia and a BA in Fine Art from the University of Barcelona. She takes a conceptual attitude to painting, employing a meta-referential approach that leads her to analyse pictorial language through the text, performance and time. In short, her painting constantly asserts itself and at the same time insists on turning into something else. Her work has been shown in the contemporary art circuits in Catalonia, such as the Valls Art Biennial (2012), the Contemporary Sant Andreu programme (2014) and the City of Amposta Art Biennial (2014), as well as in the Galerie Michel Journiac in Paris and the Barcelona Chamber of Urban Property (2010). She currently lives and works in Paris.