Jorge Galindo: Verbena
On ViewVito Schnabel Gallery
September 10–October 22, 2022
Last summer 2021, Jorge Galindo had his first major exhibition in the United States, and this year he returns to New York with Verbena, his first solo exhibition of his newest works, at Vito Schnabel. Since then, his work has gained in momentum and has been shown at Nino Mier in Los Angeles, the Hall Art Foundation Schloss Derneburg Museum (Germany), and the Museu Municipal Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (Portugal), where his collaborative work with Pedro Almodóvar was exhibited.
His flower paintings first began in 2009 and after focusing on other projects for over ten years, Galindo came back to them recently, first through his four-hand collaboration with Almodóvar and then alone as, in his mind, there was still a lot left to develop.His collection of vintage postcards, scavenged from numerous flea markets, gave resource to his first flower paintings. Last year’s show digitally scaled up those postcard images and used them to foreground his paintings. In this exhibition, we are introduced to vintage wallpaper as an additional component in his painterly work.
In this new group, we observe at the entrance, the recurring motif of explosive flora through Galindo’s thick and gestural brush strokes, recalling the Allover paintings of Abstract Expressionists. The monumental scale of a stage is embodied in a triptych Esencia de Verbena (2022) and diptych Elogio del encantamiento (2022), and though these two appear to be pure paintings, they contain subtle wallpaper underneath the paint. In his last show, Galindo employed his paint-collage method, which stitches together past and present by engaging with the digital prints of technical images found on vintage postcards. The images act as a backbone to the animated painterly bouquets and serve as the source material of the painted roses. In this exhibition, the painting-collages have evolved to include wallpaper patterns from across eras and styles, from Victorian in O Poema Mosquito (2022), and parts of Jugo de barro (2022) and Edén on Paint IV (2021-2022), to mid-century geometric patterns as in Flor aérea (2022) and Musa de los mil reflejos (2022). In a way, Galindo’s use of the prefabricated patterns in wallpaper are an ode to the playful inventions of papier collé and collage in synthetic cubism in the early twentieth century as much as his gestures are an ode to the later Ab-Ex painters. A shoe footprint in some of the works like Olor de Noviembre (2021) demonstrate the artist’s active physical participation in the artmaking. The repetition and bright hues in the wallpaper motifs add another level of bold imagery to Galindo’s intrepid strokes. The wallpaper is applied and cut into strips that frame the canvas and hold the painterly bouquets at the center of the collage-painting. These paintings are framed by synthetic patterns, and as the bouquet fights to be seen, it overgrows onto the vintage wallpaper. It reads as a window within a window, a world within a world, and sits within a long tradition of painting flowers as meditative subjects. The painterliness creates contrast and plays with the eclectic found and pasted designs, covering its undulated cut edges with the tactility of oil paint. Wallpaper, a form of print and pattern making, has historically been used to decorate walls before the white walls of Modernism. Thus, it can remind us of the quiet of interior domestic spaces that are inherently anachronistic in contrast to the loud painterly flowers, which sit in a more ambiguous invented time period. Through the work, Galindo asks us to be transported back in time to experience fragments of décor from different rooms with different tastes like Proustian madeleines. Verbena, the title of the exhibition, is a voyage to Galindo’s hometown of Madrid, where the plant itself proliferates in the Spanish capital, and is infused with memories of summertime street festivities also called verbenas.
Reusing, recycling, and finding objects within exterior urban contexts have always been a part of Galindo’s vocabulary. This is most notably present in two works, IDOLO (2021–2022), and Verbena de Madrid (2022) where stacks of city posters (e.g., announcements for concerts, theater, and other events) are included in the collage-paintings. The former layers hundreds of posters, curled and puffed up by the elements. The initial layer is coated with translucent white paint, which acts as the entire support for one of Galindo’s joyful flowers. The whole painting gives the feeling of a single treasure rescued from a natural disaster and given new meaning. In the latter work, the stacked posters are collaged onto a monumental painting and resemble a sculptural relief, the uneven edges add physical form and texture to the work. We can decipher words hinting at a party, but having been painted over, the announcements no longer serve the purpose of conveying information, and we could imagine them to be the collection of real events organized during Madrid’s verbenas. We’re transported into memories of dancing, laughter, and music lived in the past through these advertisements. The repetition of three poster stacks on the lower edge of the painting act as a hedge between us and Galindo’s world, which in this instance, is a more abstracted style using wild gestures of color and fragmented images in contrast to his more defined floral images. The posters themselves still have some legible lettering and visible contemporary icons of social media compared to the former smaller work where the headings are unclear. These headings are in dialogue with heavy brown earthy brushstrokes crossing out certain parts. In using physically destroyed posters representing past events, the work is another variation on themes around the passage of time and a desire to memorialize or give renewed life to castaway objects or short-lived moments, as the artist has done through vintage postcards, wallpaper, photographs, and in this case city placards and cut flowers.
As Galindo enters a fertile ground for the reception of his work and vision in painting and collage, we begin to understand in more depth and with familiarity, the contents and drama in his work. Galindo’s practice has always explored cutouts from old magazines, wallpaper, postcards, posters, album covers, and often, everyday materials found in life or at flea markets. In the recent work his wildly energized brushwork gives renewed life to the materials he collects for collage, his new work revisiting recurrent themes. It seems we enter his metaphorical garden full of anticipation for the next series of works, perhaps filled with more surprises that unite and question how we determine what is old, used, or salvaged, or new, spontaneous, or chaotic.