Text by Alberto Peral
Encompassing all beings, visible and invisible
When I first saw Annunciation in 6, The Virgin of Carmen (2011), a work made for a site-specific project at a bus shelter, I was taken aback, It’s hard to inject a physical impression into an image but Idoia Montón does so in this large scale collage. The work depicts an average street, where, as though, from an Aladdin’s lamp, a monster emerges from a drain in a bellow of smoke and viscous flesh, like a shadow wrenched out from the sewers in which it dwells.
Thus a humdrum street setting is transformed into a mystical place, as the station at Perpignan was likewise for Dalí.
To understand this work we must call on more than our formal, conceptual or aesthetic vision. It is the artist’s experience that is transferred into the language of painting, representing an almost religious experience in which the artist acts like a visionary, a medium who brings forth a hidden world, invisible to most of us mortals. Besides this work, I’d also like to dwell on another smaller scale collage ST (2012), a self-portrait in which the artist has her back to the street depicted in the previous collage. In this case, or so it seems to me, Idoia is dressed as a medieval friar. It’s an extraordinary portrait whose main characteristic is the subject’s lack of eyes. It leads me to believe that the artist wants to show us not what she sees but what she feels when she sees it, hence elevating this image into the realm of the mystical.
On the invitation for this exhibition, there is another painting which reveals the potency of Idoia’s work. At Plaza de Glories, an area of the city ravaged with construction and with the newly built design museum in the background, below the ground a stingray type creature sucks up the photoshop-compressed city, though rather than being ingested, the sensation is that it’s being sucked up for purification. This is a reoccurring theme in the work; the animal interiorized as a kind of counterweight, a way to relate to our new surroundings, this new landscape we inhabit.
It seems these works, along with others in the exhibition, are saying to us that the human is a negligent part of the totality. Her vision takes us to an underworld where the laws of animals and of nature are what we call the “other”. The works of city maps are like a field mouse’s tunnel. One of them shows a winged being that pours blood through a tube onto a map of an urban development, though in reality, we can’t be sure if the bird is just bleeding or if its delivery is giving life to the city; we might never know the true meaning but we are aware that the city is kept alive by this bloody act, as if in some ancient ritualistic offering.
Approaching the universe of Idoia is to find yourself caught in a fascinating world, not because it is fantastical but because it’s real. Today it’s hard to come across artists of the authenticity of Idoia Montón. Seeing a work of hers is a celebration.
Editor’s note: Author’s revision of the Exhibition text from “Aquellos”, Galeria Sis, Sabadell (2017)