Malas Formas – Txomin Badiola 1990-2002
Published by: Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2002
Text by: Lorad Hegyi
The work of Txomin Badila, which is influenced by the dialecticts of construction and deconstruction, operates with relatively familiar art-historical reference, on the one hand primarily from the field of the “classic” Constructivist, Supermatist art of Russian avant-garde, on the other also from the field of the various ready-made positions. Confronting real, everyday, usable and useful utilitarian objects (particularly furniture and interior architectural elements, building and decorating materials, prefabricated parts, etc.) with forms that are abstract in their effect heightens awareness of the aesthetic questions regarding art’s relationship to context, or the positioning and arranging of the individual fragments of the construction as a whole. Through the art-historical references the real objects acquire a new meaning, an “alien” one even, which radically changes the purpose of their role in the newly gained aesthetic, art-historical context. Likewise the geometric-abstract formations lose their aesthetic autonomy, their purely formal definition, and are seen as components of the real, everyday, material world. In a multi-layered context prefabricated building elements, pieces of furniture and architectural fragments become aesthetic signs of certain references which associate the physically and temporally very disparate fields of the events that make up twentieth-century art with one another in a confusing form. By this means Badiola sensitises not only our memory of cultural history, but also the latent self-reflective processes of modern art, which basically always tended toward giving up the autonomy fought for in the nineteenth century – as understood by Baudelaire – and shaping afresh the whole, real, material world from the project of “art”.
Thus in Badiola’s constructions the black square of the Suprematist artist Kasimir Malevich appears in the widest variety of combinations of materials, in a fairly interpretation. While in some works the black void functions as a spiritual center of the whole construction, as a bottomless memory store, but also as a hole in which everything disappears, or as a totally dark space in which the differences between the individual objects can no longer be identified, and thus as a reification of Suprematist non-objectivity, in other works he presents the metaphorical form of the black square as an emblem, a logo, a functional sign.
The constructions assembled from real objects and various building materials according to strict formal principles simultaneously conjure up several different associations, arising from the formal similarities. On the one hand virtual rooms come into being, with opening (such as doors, windows, ventilation shafts) in which recognizable fragments are indivisibly associated with abstract formal elements; the way utilitarian objects are stripped of their function (such as a chair made unusable by means of geometric forms, or a door that cannot be opened) makes a reinterpretation and a new relationship to context possible. On the other hand the normal, commonplace, recognizable utilitarian objects change the meaning of the metaphorical forms; they endow them with quasi practical function, and translate the aesthetic utopia into a real world, in which the foreign bodies coming from the sphere of utopia – despite their radical change of function – retain their original, latent reserves of meaning as purveyors of a different, transcendental system of values.
Paradoxically this allusion to Malevich’s transcendental, spiritual, universalistic ideology in Badiola’s constructions can be interpreted simultaneously as a gain and a loss: a gain in the sense of an enrichment of memory, an interpolation of certain metaphorical meanings which opens wide the scope of the things assembled from real objects, as if they were vehicles of universal validities continuing an intellectual process in the spirit of Suprematism, as if they were the development of the aesthetic project of non-objectivity, as if they were the real, tangible building of the white, timeless, disembodied architecture of Malevich; a loss in the sense that they hypostasise the disappearance of memories of utopia in an indefinable black space, in the sense that they are a manifestation of amnesia, a relation of the absense of transcendence and of fact that utopia has become impossible. Badiola takes our historical relationship to utopia as a theme, or demonstrates the historically necessary confrontation between utopia and reality, between a project and its development, while the deliberately interpolated interference factors make visible the deconstruction of the myths of the avant-garde, namely the myths that the world could be remodeled on the basis of the aesthetic project. The complexity and richness of the constructions assembled from real objects and abstract forms are expressed in an iconic, hierarchical, architectonic structure – which almost contradicts the diversity of the levels of reference.