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“... De sal i cendra”
Guillem Nadal

From 25 November 2022 to 17 January 2023.

Salt and Ash
(Past and future of a landscape without us)
Iván de la Nuez

Ash evokes the past that has ceased to be fire and is about to be extinguished. Salt invokes a corrosive future, reluctant to fade.
Salt and ash trigger an image of the world without fanfare.
Without its skyscrapers and cities. Its neon lights and busy streets.
Salt and ash prepare us to enter, without a compass, into a region that humans will not inhabit.
Welcome to a landscape without us.
To the elements that occupy our thought, and yet are no thought. Just as nature is not the same as ecology, society is not the same as sociology, or cartography is not the same as landscape.
So is this rock art, which emerged from a crypt located somewhere between nature and culture. An art that does not waste time looking for a balance between the two, because it already knows it is impossible to achieve.
This art is not about fire, storm or tide, as the works directly catch fire, slit the horizon, and sink.
We are not here to confirm the rhetoric of the avant-garde —always at the mercy of a weather report— but the harbinger of a nature shaken by erosion, decay, the sun...
Here, the elements set the pace of the work and don't refer to the chronology of a sheltered life (the sacrosanct pace of our twenty-four day), but to a chaotic whirl of storms, river floods, and torrential downpours.
Here, nature does not capitulate, nor does it return to a seminal ecstasy devoid of the dangers of extinction.
Here, nature traverses culture, just like the past traverses the present, as Lucy R. Lippard saw in Overlay. (This is, in short, about a nature that surrenders and falls on the works of art, unperturbed).
Here, there is no paradise lost or Eden vanquished.
Here, the West is an accident.
Here, there is no chest to open.
More than contemporary, we are dealing with temporary art here. Therefore, it is not very interesting to classify these works as installations, words, sculptures or paintings.
These pieces are detail drawings (of all the media mentioned above and also their own).
Unfinished like sketches, unstable like drafts, the pieces are arranged to vaguely orientate us in the space. Perhaps, they rustically suggest a journey in which words are less important than calligraphy, and text much less important than texture…
They represent a metamorphosis of nature that is not about the stages conquered but the stages burnt.
Ash and salt. Salt and ash.

In the Dictionary of Symbols by Eduardo Cirlot, the Spanish poet associates ash with death, "with dust, on the one hand, and with fire and burnt things on the other." However, he does not mention salt at all, including not even a tiny entry in his masterpiece.

For that we have Blaise de Vigenère and his Discourse on Fire and Salt, published in 1618. In this book, salt is also associated with fire, but a mutant and indomitable type of fire that creeps through time to sustain the breath of life on earth.

According to Oteiza, the purpose of art was not to tell, but to show instead. And that is precisely what the strokes in this cartography are trying to achieve, a cartography in which the territory defines the map of an exorcism that turns us into torches, ready to burn and light up the world.

Al Ras is the title of a very special book that artist Guillem Nadal and writer Iván de la Nuez are currently preparing for Turner Publishing Company with the collaboration of Galería Pelaires. This curatorial and artistic project is the fruit of a long professional and personal relationship between Nadal and de la Nuez. An intimate process and an artistic experience that seeks to illustrate part of Guillem Nadal's career and creative universe. The exhibition at Pelaires and the publication of the book are part of the same project. Therefore, Al Ras becomes "... De sal i cendra", the title of the exhibition currently on view at Pelaires. The publication physically expanded into a project that expresses itself in literary and visual terms. A selection of works from 2001 to 2022, on display in Palma from 25th November 2022 to 17th January 2023.

The exhibition occupies the two floors of the gallery. For the wall of the entrance courtyard, the artist has created a poetic installation featuring letters made of wild olive tree, inspired by a quote by Joseph Conrad included in chapter "El coleccionista de ruinas (2007)" from the book Museo animal by the Costa Rican writer Carlos Fonseca (San José, 1987). These sculpture-letters, hung on the wall in an intentionally top-down manner, end up burning and disappearing at ground level. Ash is one of the key elements of the exhibition.

The works displayed on the ground floor of Galería Pelaires form a landscape trapped in a white cube. Nature within the exhibition space and, at the same time, an extension of the artist's studio that is revealed to the public. The free-standing nucleus of model-sculptures, with pieces from 2001 to 2022, captures different moments in the artist's career, a succession of intimate stories with themes and interests that are recurring throughout his work: the passage of time, a reflection on the concept of journey and shipwrecks, amongst others. This forest of models is accompanied by five different-sized paintings from 2016 that represent green deserts, trapped nature that lightens and erases the outer borders. The ensemble itself features rarely, if ever, seen works that normally inhabit the artist's studio, a refuge of nature and reflection that transcends the limits of the human landscape.

On the main floor, three wooden canoes hang from the coffered ceiling, inspiring the title of the exhibition. Two of the canoes are filled with salt, a salt landscape, the second key element of the show. Salt is a material that Guillem Nadal has used in some of his most emblematic installations over the years. The canoes revive the concept of journey and evoke some biblical landscapes that explain how people used to be punished by salting the earth, thus condemning them to starvation. The third canoe carries ashes and some coal.

These pieces link directly to the works in the second room of the main floor. On the wall, a recent piece features two skulls facing each other, in pencil and fire, a journey through time that ends in the circle of the utopian island that represents the end of life. The sculptural work on display in the middle of the room is a landscape of memory, a piece made with ash and two real skulls.

This new exhibition revives Guillem Nadal's approach to art as a natural extension of his life. A reflective and coherent process that transcends any external stimulus. Nadal travels relentlessly inwards and outwards. A desire to create a poetic world from the main themes that have accompanied him throughout his career, a production with an unmistakable object-oriented narrative.