Madrid me Mata

July 16 - Sept 1, 2014
Arts & Leisure, NYC

In the modest storefront venue, new tondo paintings in customized frames are layered on top of and alongside wall stickers printed with stills from films like “Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” One wall is covered in printed-vinyl images: a photograph of a restaurant window that White herself took in Madrid; covers of an influential cultural magazine published in the city during the mid-’80s; fliers for a now-defunct music club, Rock Ola; an appropriated image of a 1979 work by Okua Leele, a sort of self-portrait with a mane of lemons. Scott Indrisek, Artinfo

In this exhibition, White pays tribute to the recently shuttered Galería Moriarty in Madrid. While filled with the gestures and chops that are typical of White’s previous bodies of work, at A+L the artist does something a bit different – all the paintings are circular and hung on top of large-scale, manipulated Pedro Almodóvar film stills.

La Movida Madrileña was a countercultural movement in 1980s Spain characterized by freedom of expression and transgression from the taboos imposed by the Franco Regime. Here, White uses photography and cinematography to capture the atmosphere of the moment; pictures of food, magazine covers, and film posters - while paying strong homage to Almodóvar, a key presence in the Movida movement. Some hang and some are stacked for viewers to flip through.

It is impossible to experience Spain without Spanish fútbol. Like the rest of the world, the World Cup has engrossed the US this summer. It has filled every bar on every corner of our major cities – especially NYC, which arguably is the most multi-cultural of the nation’s cities – with a fever for the game. This hunger has a long history in Spain and is not limited to fútbol. It is equally found in language, food, and street fashion. Spanish culture is a dance, and this exhibition taps into that spirit, passion, and movement. For example, White’s painting La Luna de Madrid captures the pulse of Spain. The painting references an early-80s counterculture magazine by the same name, conceived and edited by the co-owner of Galeria Moriarty—yet it also references fútbol. A sticker of a soccer ball is positioned as if ready for a header, or perhaps already careening towards the net. “La Luna” of course translates to “The Moon.” In a similar way that the moon has gravitational control on the tides, fútbol has a pull on the revolutionary spirit of Spain, as the residual spirit of La Movida is found in fútbol fields, streets, restaurants, nightclubs, bars and art galleries. It is a lustful appetite, a craving, and an urge to dance. The fervor of Spain is timeless. La Movida was a manifestation of the need to bravely, voraciously, live life in the moment. This need to live in the present is nowhere more evident than in White’s paintings.

Another example is the painting Real Madrid – bold, direct, and unpretentious. It is wrapped in a gold frame that forms a crown, and the number 84 prominently fills the small canvas in a translucent yellow green. The painting calls our attention to the team, and the importance of the year 1984, when the Real Madrid won the UEFA Cup, their first title in 19 years, with a group of players known as La Quinta del Buitre (The Vulture Squad). The Vulture Squad developed a more athletic and expressionistic style of play that embraced Madrid’s newly-attained independence.