Two Times 2022.07.02 - 2022.08.27
Alberto Peral is one of a generation of Spanish artists who emerged in the early nineties: a group who were forced to break unknown ground: unlike in other European and American countries in the same period, Spain was lacking in a solid, well-grounded artistic tradition built around premises that took shape in the transformational breach of the sixties. Political conditions in the nation at that time would not allow new artistic forms - those that later became known as Minimalism, Pop or Conceptual or Povera - to develop. The only movements able to camouflage their relevant contributions in the prevailing climate of cultural and institutional conservatism were Informalism in painting and certain neo-constructivist tendencies in sculpture. The political regime change of the late seventies thus began its course in a scene with very little cohesion, led by a number of names who managed to profit from the achievements of the historical avant-garde and the input of painting and sculpture from 1950 to the last years of Francoism. The eighties in Spain were therefore affected by this historical anomaly, and driven to tendencies that can only be explained today in terms of urgency and acceleration.
This generation’s leap into the unknown happened alongside transformations in the institutional arena, which were also driven by a process of forced acceleration during which a large network of art centres were built throughout Spain; art schools were timidly modernised, and the foundations for critical practise began to be laid, with an awareness of its role in accompanying, supporting and legitimising the burgeoning art practices of the early nineties. The work of Alberto Peral (Santurtzi, 1966), was birthed in this set of circumstances, and also took on the task of a certain dematerialisation in art, or, to put it less formally, a liberating, unprejudiced dismantling of codes regarding the means and tools to be used in founding his own artistic ideology and praxis. In Alberto’s own context, the Basque Country, where he remained until the end of his Fine Art degree, the development of sculpture and the leading role of a figure the size of Jorge Oteiza gave rise to a scene where sculpture – or three-dimensional practice, with implications relating to space and architecture – was being reconsidered and renewed from a political perspective of self affirmation and recognition.
These were the seeds, in the case of Alberto Peral, that were to generate a diverse trajectory strongly grounded in phenomenological issues and the notion of the fragmented body and desire, favouring mechanisms of perception that have more to do with other experience-based disciplines such as dance and theatre. Thus considered, his work since the mid-nineties, in the culturally and politically diverse city of Barcelona, shows a certain independence, not only manifested in his deliberate use of other expressive formats such as drawing or photography, but also in his subversive approach to sculpture, which questions some of its traditional axioms and prioritises aspects such as the gaze and collective enjoyment, performativity, and the possibility of forming our attachments with the art object through our own desire and subjectivity.
Alberto Peral works from a strictly reductionist position, but his sculpture is replete with references to the vocabulary of the great European sculptors of the early avant gardes, as well as to North American Minimalism, bringing these together in an attitude which might seem almost insolent, but is actually a complicit nod and a direct appeal to our fantasies regarding the configuration of the sensitive world. Beyond the pieces’ seeming individuality, we might prefer (or imagine) a possible staging for the pieces where they could act together, in choral form, practising a sociability that would solidify their presences as characters in a moral narrative based on the subtle play of oppositions and correspondences.
Juan de Nieves