Born in Burgos (Spain) and living in New York, Fernando Renes has been immersed in and devoted to the world of drawing and the imagination, at least since early 2000. He is one of those artists who consciously broke with, or disregarded, the reigning artistic style of his time - "politically engaged" and ''confessional'' artists.
His drawings, mostly watercolors, are either too opaque or too simple, obtuse or inconclusive, obvious, impenetrable or uneventful, but there's never mystery about them. They are what they are. There's no "beyond what you look at." The drawings are always plain, forthright. There is no 'allegory," no "metaphor," no "irony" about them. Either you are interested in his drawings or you are not. You don't need to translate them; you just need to read them. Everything belongs to the world of the drawing, to the imagination. And, as the imagination, these drawings procure and negotiate a world full of wild lips and jarring discontinuities, of desires and repulsions, of fears and humor; a world ready and anticipating, primed for the image in time, for animation.
is introducing in New York a small sample of individual drawings made during the last 2 years, and a whole room of drawings (over 160) selected from the dense compilation of over 1,500 drawings that provided the fabric for "14" (2004), Renes's third animation and the central piece of this exhibition, which also includes "Couch Grass" (2000) and "Tableland" (2005), respectively his first video-animation and his last, still in progress. Octavio Zaya curates the exhibition.
Whether drawn from his fantasy or from the singularity and trivia of the quotidian, all these drawings, all these video-animations, are enthralling fictions, full of inscrutable imagery, random nonsense, and profundities that may or may not hold up in the light of day, as in our dreams. Always capturing the juxtapositions of the incidental and the ludicrous that characterize dream life, Fernando Renes ruminates those crazy incidents that seem so vivid in the moment and so fuzzy and blurred, so preposterous and inconsequential later on. And as it happens in dreams, his chaos is organized, his order arbitrary.
"Couch Grass" comes across as if it were a "stream of consciousness," recording the multifarious thoughts and feelings of the character/artist without regard to logical argument or narrative sequence. As the writer, Renes reflects all the forces, external and internal, influencing the psychology of the character at a single moment. This moment always leads to another kind of moment. Thus, this animation, as any of the artist's animations, does not tell a tale, a story, doesn't offer a message. It only insinuates an interior landscape in which one idea, one thought, one image, one frame, one element, one word, morphs into another.
As in "14", the pleasure is in the little jokes and all the surprises, and in watching Renes's hand so effortlessly work many unexpected and elegant variations on familiar objects and situations, drawn more to wandering than to getting anywhere. But it is never as easy as it sounds, never as easy as it looks. It is like playing a game; it is always different and never the same. And as a game, it is the sheer experience of enjoyment and pastime. And we might even win.
This exhibition is made possible by MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León/Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla and Leon. The exhibition program at TRANS> area is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Rosa & Carlos de la Cruz.
Fernando Renes, Artist
Fernando Renes has been living in Brooklyn for over 7 years. He is the recipient Musac's Contemporary Art Creation Grant.
About Octavio Zaya, Curator
Octavio Zaya, writer and independent curator, was born in Las Palmas (Canary Islands), and has lived in New York since 1978. He is currently an Advisor for MUSAC (Leon) and is working on independent curatorial projects including: a retrospective of Shirin Neshat (MUSAC,CAAM, Miro Foundation), a group show of Contemporary Artists from Iran (Koldo Mitxelena, San Sebastian and Kunsforeningen, Copenhague), an exhibition of emerging international artists (with Yuko Hasegawa and Agustin Perez Rubio, MUSAC) and Shirana Shahbazi at TRANS>area, New York.
Zaya was one of the curators of Documenta 11 (Kassel, 2002), as part of the group directed by Okwui Enwezor. He was also one of the curators of the first and second Johannesburg Biennials (1995 and 1997). His other exhibitions include Interzones (Copenhagen, 1996), In/Sight, African Photographers 1940 to the Present (Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1997), The Garden of Forking Paths (Co*penhagen, Stokholm, Helinski, 1998), and Interferencias (Canal de Isabel II, Madrid, 1998). In 1997 he was the curator for Latin America at ARCO and from 1998 to 2001 he was one of the curators for the international project rooms at ARCO.
Zaya is the co-Director of Atlantica magazine (CAAM, Las Palmas) and Editor at Large of A-42 (Madrid). He also belongs to the editorial board for the NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art (Cornell University), is an advisor for Lab 71 (electronic magazine) and is a correspondent for Flash Art.
TRANS> is a non-profit based in New York. The gallery
space, TRANS>area, gives artists their first solo
exhibition in New York. The artists who have had their first solo
exhibition in New York at TRANS>area include: Anri
Sala, Artur Barrio, Marine Hugonnier, Mircea Cantor, Koo Jeong-a,
Yang Fudong, Daniel Guzman, and Barbara Pollack and David Cabrera.
Performances presented at TRANS>area include: Joan Jonas and
Lovett and Codagnone.
program at TRANS>area is sponsored by The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., and Rosa and Carlos de La
Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty:
TRANS> has recently commissioned and premiered the acclaimed rock opera concert, "Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty," Entertainment by Dan Graham, Tony Oursler and Rodney Graham. The upcoming traveling venues are: Festival of Vienna, June 3 - 7, 2005 and The Walker Art Center, January 5 - 8, 2006.
The puppet rock incorporates live music, video, and 24 inch marionettes. The show portrays the obsession with youth culture taken to absurd extremes by following the ascent of Neil Sky, a 24-year-old rock star-turned President, who changes the voting age to 14.
"Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty" is commissioned by TRANS>, Produced by Sandra Antelo-Suarez, with Co-producers Foundation 2021, New York, Foundation 20 21 and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna / Wiener Festwochen, Walker Art Center MN and Voom/LAB New York.