Alberto García-Alix. Self-portrait.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
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The work of Alberto García-Alix gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, I'm attracted by the dirty, almost cursed, poetry of a Baudelairean character being transported from Napoleon III's Paris to Madrid during the 'Movida'. On the other hand, I'm repelled by a certain autistic artificiality, self-indulgent in a nothingness full of clichés. I don't know, it's as if standing before Sabina the photographer, bohemian con artist who lives off his image, a rainy Sunday afternoon in a bar that mimics the look of the '70s, the most lackluster confessions of Hank Chinaski.

Both are Alberto. Twenty years to grow. Twenty to develop his work. And twenty more to be awarded, decorated and paraded around the globe in retrospectives. And now it's the Virreina's turn. The exhibition features about eighty self-portraits in the most generous sense of the word, and two videos of histrionic sadness.

We see a García-Alix who grows older but never abandons his love of motorcycles, who still has a terribly photogenic face and a muscular body that makes us doubt his times spent with opiates. In early 1980, we called it dirty realism. An abyss of dizziness driven by survival, aesthetically, into disrepute. And the fact is that, despite accidents and illnesses, García-Alix has survived.

In this eagerness to portray a face and some of the intimate landscapes related to identity, there is a true teen spirit from a teenager who, beyond his years, spends his days looking in the mirror and touching himself between the legs. If we hold onto only a few pictures, we ourselves become part of this club of Dorian Gray crackpots. This is not a complaint solely about the work of García-Alix. But, you also go to exhibitions to dream – of glamor, exoticism, even of countries and cultures that are a lot worse off... And the accumulation of empty beds in infamous hostels, corners of suburbs bursting with repair shops, fragments of bodies as so many tattoos, wounds from who-knows-what and the worthy sex of a porn star conjure up danger so that our soul ends up stinking of boiled cauliflower.

The case of García-Alix, and this exhibition is a good example, raises the question of contemporary art in relation to historical acceleration. We still don't have an aesthetic corpus and already we're obsolete. Can you imagine Alberto starting his career in the era of Flickr and the iPhone?

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