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GARCIA CESAR 

'Fire is part of who I am'

 

ACT I / WELCOME

ACT II / TENSION 

ACT III / PARDON 

GARCIA CESAR

Transcription of the speech given at the inauguration of Indulto/Pardon,

New Norfolk, 11th December 2021

The creative process of an artist is usually a private one. In my case, it takes place in a messy studio with no other companions than my tools and utensils. Well, since Lola arrived, sometimes she’s a special guest, but that’s beyond the point. Art is a lonely endeavour. Until now.

 

With Indulto I wanted you to witness the process. At least part of it. Because what you’ve just seen is as essential as what happened behind closed doors. I haven’t destroyed my art. Quite the opposite. I’ve transformed it and made it everlasting.


Fire is part of who I am. I come from Valencia, and fire is embedded in Mediterranean culture. Specifically, in our tradition Valencians celebrate the Spring equinox by burning creations that we’ve taken a whole year to create. That popular celebration is called Fallas. I encourage you to check it out. It symbolizes liberation, healing, and purification.


Fire is so integral to my identity and to the identity of this exhibition that I’ve also conceived and built the device where the work was burned.


Pardon —or indulto in the original Spanish— refers to the fact that one of the creations in Fallas is pardoned and kept from the flames. I’ve done the same with one of the series today. Ironically, that’s the only series that I’ve printed. And the only one that can deteriorate if not kept properly. The other series I’ve burned will remain perfectly unchanged forever.


You’ve probably seen QR codes on each of the plinths of the exhibition. A few years ago, I would be explaining what they are for. Now I have to explain that they are not to check-in. Thanks, COVID. Those QR Codes will take you to a virtual gallery where the work is kept digitally. They’ve become NFTs.


Non-fungible tokens are original digital objects. As authentic and unique as the physical ones. So in a way, I’ve cheated because I haven’t pardoned just one series. I’ve pardoned all the work you’ve seen here today. I’ve simply changed the format of some. 


Finally, I just want to mention that the work was conceived as a series of sequences, in homage to comics, an art that’s also very close to my heart and that has traditionally been overlooked as a minor artistic expression. Comics are a common interest with Edu Pou, a friend who’s been very close to this exhibition, and who I invite now to say a few words.

 

 

EDU POU

Transcription of the speech given at the inauguration of Indulto/Pardon,

New Norfolk, 11th December 2021

Tough act to follow to say a few words about art in front of the artist. But I like challenges. Just like Jose does. Indulto is a perfect example.


Indulto embodies the dialectic between craft and technology that ultimately seems to be omnipresent in the art world today. An ongoing discussion made popular by Walter Benjamin with his magnum opus “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. In it, Benjamin says: “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.” Unfortunately, Benjamin died way before virtual worlds were created. Discussing digital scarcity and how it affects art with him would be fascinating.


With Indulto, Jose takes a dramatic stand to illustrate the fact that the real world combines the physical world and the digital world. Forget one or the other and you will end up with only part of the picture. Like the ashes in the urns only contain the testimony of what it was. Not of what it is. That reality is behind another glass, most likely the one on your phone or your computer. Anyone can see it. Anyone can copy it without loss in quality. But only one person can own the original.


Digital art has an established history dating back to the 1960s. But the ease of duplication traditionally made it near-impossible to assign provenance and value to the medium. The Ethereum blockchain is the knight in shining armour that’s presented itself to solve this issue, and guarantees the uniqueness of digital objects, including art. Like a magician, Jose’s cremation was a misdirect. The real art was never there.


Don’t get me wrong. Those were original pieces, created with charcoal and sweat. But from their conception, they were meant to be digital objects. And as such they are intact. In case this provocation wasn’t enough, he decided to pardon the only series where he’s taken advantage of digital tools for its creation and that has been printed in archival paper instead of painted directly in the canvas. The level of quality of such prints makes them indistinguishable to the naked eye. How many more tricks does Jose have up his sleeve?


Original v copy, digital v physical, man v machine, three provocations in one exhibition. Not bad, Jose. Thank you for giving us much more than a glimpse into your creative process, thank you for planting the seed of a debate that’s meant to be as fascinating and open as the debate about art itself.

 

 

THE DANCE

Charcoal on paper, 110 X 150cm / each

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THE WALK

Charcoal, 110 X 150cm / each

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4 PM

Charcoal, 110 X 150cm / each

These drawings are not a NFT

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 Special thanks to Belen Chirivella, Edu Pou, Matt Boden, Meg Keating, Llewellyn Negrin, Tania Price, Peter Stannard, Gerrard Dixon, Murray Antil, Natasha Rowell, Neil Haddon, Aaron Horsley, Philip Blacklow, Michelle Dracoulis and Derwent Valley Arts